Zimbabwe's 2011 political year opened with both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change insisting no elections should be held without broad political and electoral reforms to prevent another disputed outcome as in 2008.
President Robert Mugabe and his long-ruling ZANU-PF party have pressed for dissolution of the inclusive government and new elections by midyear – though a report in the state-run Sunday Mail quoted unnamed ZANU-PF sources saying elections could be deferred to allow for the completion of constitutional revision.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his party wants a presidential ballot before general elections – and under the right circumstances.
"We should not put the cart before the horse. We need to clearly define the conditions that are necessary for the holding of a free and fair vote first," Chamisa said.
His sentiments were echoed by Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the MDC wing of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara who said his party wants full consummation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing before any election.
"It's premature to talk of elections unless certain milestones provided for in the GPA have been attained," Mushoriwa said.
But ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that his party insists on a general vote after the initial two-year tenure of the unity government expires in February.
"There is no reason why we should not go for elections when the life of the inclusive government expires," Gumbo declared.
Elsewhere, VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that a provincial branch of the Mutambara MDC formation placed the name of the deputy prime minister in nomination for the job of secretary general though he has said he won't seek any post.
The party's elective congress will be held in Harare at the weekend. Party Secretary General Welshman Ncube, also Minister of Industry and Commerce, is widely billed to be elected the next president of the formation, which has experienced deep divisions and a number of defections to the larger MDC of Prime Minister Tsvangirai.