The leadership of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party Wednesday reaffirmed the party stance adopted at its annual conference late last year that elections should be held this year as soon as a revised constitution has been adopted.
The ZANU-PF politburo rejected statements by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the party's chief negotiator in ongoing power-sharing discussions, that elections would have to be put off until 2012 or even 2013 given the amount of preparation needed.
ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told reporters after the politburo meeting that the party had "re-aligned" with Chinamasa on the question of elections timing.
Asked about objections from the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change that the electoral playing field is not yet sufficiently level for free and fair elections to be held, Gumbo responded that perfect conditions for elections do not exist anywhere.
Minister of State Didymus Mutasa said elsewhere that ZANU-PF will disregard the advice of the Southern African Development Community on when elections should be held. The regional organization has recommended that elections be put off to 2012.
Mutasa told the Mail newspaper that elections will be held as soon as a new constitution is in place. Parliamentary officials in charge of revising the constitution have said that a referendum can be held by the end of September, but many consider that ambitious.
Commentator Charles Mangongera told VOA reporter Chris Gande that the split in the former ruling party over when to call elections shows ZANU-PF is losing cohesion.