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Zimbabwe Unity Gov't, Election Talks Resume in Cape Town, South Africa

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said South African President Zuma had successfully blocked efforts by President Mugabe and his former ruling ZANU-PF party to force a new round of elections this year

Negotiators for Zimbabwe's three governing parties met on Thursday in Cape Town, South Africa, to continue discussions about a road-map to the next elections, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters at the World Economic Forum, also in the Western Cape capital, that he seeks a vote whose outcome won't be contested.

Mr. Tsvangirai praised South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Harare for the Southern African Development Community. He said Mr. Zuma had successfully blocked efforts by President Robert Mugabe and his former ruling ZANU-PF party to force a new round of elections this year when most observers say the country is not ready.

Mr. Tsvangirai told journalists that the outcome of the next elections “must be legitimate, credible and conducted to the satisfaction of” all stakeholders including the African Union and the international community. Sources said Mr. Zuma was likely to meet with Mr. Tsvangirai on the margins of the World Economic Forum.

Unity government party negotiators meanwhile met for talks at an undisclosed location in Cape Town with Mr. Zuma’s facilitators and advisers. Negotiators were to focus on the elections road-map and unresolved issues related to the Global Political Agreement for power-sharing signed in 2008 by the principals to the current unity government.

Zuma spokesman Zizi Kodwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that his boss wants to see a clear road-map to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his party is hoping for an agreement that will address all major sticking points.

Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation said his party simply wants a road-map to elections under conditions promoting a democratic ballot.

With a SADC summit on Zimbabwe coming up in Namibia later this month, Mr. Zuma appears to have moved the talks on the road-map to the front burner even as cracks have appeared within ZANU-PF as to when elections should be held. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, senior negotiator for ZANU-PF, recently said elections cannot be held until 2012 or even 2013 given the need for a constitutional referendum first.

Reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke with political analyst Livingstone Dzikira who said that with signals emerging from ZANU-PF suggesting a shift in position on the timing of the next ballot, negotiators may come out of their meeting with a clearer time line.

But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya said he did not think the meeting in Cape Town was likely to resolve many substantive issues.