Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Wednesday accused President Robert Mugabe of “grandstanding” in declaring recently that his ZANU-PF party is ready for elections in 2011, saying the former ruling party would be routed by the Movement for Democratic Change in a free and fair ballot.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Loirdham Moyo reported from eastern Mutare on Mutambara's remarks to an audience at nearby Africa University.
But Zimbabwean civil society representatives taking part in a symposium Tuesday in Washington said the country and the international community should start preparing for elections sooner than later in light of the mounting tensions within the unity government in Harare.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, and Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko noted that recent opinion polls indicate most Zimbabweans favor new elections next year.
Chipfunde-Vava said the polls should be held even if a new constitution has not been drafted and voter rolls have not yet been overhauled. Mukoko said that while there have been some notable political and economic improvements in Zimbabwe, major reforms have been stalled due to friction in the unity government.
VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube reported from the symposium organized by Freedom House.