Both formations of Zimbabwe's former opposition Movement for Democratic Change have vowed Monday that they will not be bullied into an election President Robert Mugabe insists must be held no later than March 2012 if essential reforms are not in place.
Mr. Mugabe told a meeting of senior ZANU-PF officials late last week that he will press ahead to call presidential, general and local elections whether or not his MDC partners in the country's national unity government are in agreement.
Such a move would also displease many leaders in the Southern African Development Community, which for months has been urging urging the Zimbabwean power-sharing partners to draw up a clear road map to elections including not only the prospective date of the poll but listing critical milestones such as a referendum on a new constitution.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a Highfield rally of his MDC wing on Saturday that "certain steps must be taken" before a ballot can be held.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that his party will not go into an election that President Mugabe has unilaterally called.
His sentiments were echoed by Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, who said his party is ready for a vote once basic reforms have been carried out.
Political analyst Joy Mabenge of the Institute for a Democratic and Alternative Zimbabwe told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira he believes that Mr. Mugabe is merely politicking in threatening to call elections early next year, as the government and Parliament will have to adjust to the terms of a new constitution if the people should approve one.
That revised constitution has not yet been drafted despite more than a year of public hearings and processing of testimony taken in such hearings, and it is become more and more unlikely that a referendum will be held before the first quarter of 2012.