Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has rejected South African President Jacob Zuma’s calls for fresh elections next year to end the disputes that have constrained the work of the new administration in Harare.
Mr Tsvangirai, speaking on his return from leave on Tuesday said the South African leader cannot determine when elections should be held in Zimbabwe.
He was reacting to Mr Zuma’s assertion that the governing parties must consider putting aside some of the issues threatening ongoing talks so that they prepare for fresh elections next year.
President Robert Mugabe and his coalition partners have been squabbling over a number of fundamental issues arising from their Global Political Agreement (GPA) that led to the formation of the unity government last February.
“President Zuma cannot push for elections in Zimbabwe,” Mr Tsvangirai told a German news agency.
According to the GPA, the unity government must first facilitate the drafting of a new constitution for the country before fresh elections are held.
The constitution making process, although hindered by financial problems and political squabbles is already underway and must be completed before the end of the year.
The draft constitution will be subjected to a referendum before it becomes law and will be used for the coming elections.
Zimbabwe has not held elections since the dispute June 27, 2008 presidential run-off poll because there is no election commission in place.
“The elections will be defined by the GPA. The GPA says after the referendum the president and prime minister will set a date for the election,” Mr Tsvangirai added.
“So I think that people should not pre-empt a process which is already there and which is understood by all parties to be the law.”
However, analysts say Mr Zuma’s calls for elections in Zimbabwe showed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which appointed him to be the facilitator in the talks, had grown impatient with delays in concluding the talks.
The parties were expected to resume the talks on Sunday after a month long break but the negotiators are yet to regroup amid claims that Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF is now dragging its feet.
Meanwhile, Mr Tsvangirai has told a local radio station that he is frustrated that the power sharing agreement with Mr Mugabe has not been implemented fully almost a year after they formed their unity government.
But he remains confident that their troubled marriage will not collapse.
“It is 11 months after the formation of the transitional government and probably about 16 months after the signing of the GPA,” he said.
“I am sure that it is a fact that it was not anticipated that we go into 2010 still talking about the implementation of the agreement.
“I think that’s where the frustrating part is.”
Over the past few months, the inclusive government has been rocked by disturbances on white owned commercial farms and threats to seize foreign owned companies by supporters of President Mugabe.
In December, Swiss based international food giant, Nestle temporarily suspended its operations in Zimbabwe after supporters of the ageing leader tried to force it to buy milk from his estate.
Commenting on the latest assault on white farmers Mr Tsvangirai said: “Well in this GPA we have always budgeted for resistance elements that will do something that is not within the core values of the inclusive Government and this is one of the examples.
“It must be condemned.”
Last year, Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change temporarily pulled out of the unity government accusing Zanu PF of disrespecting their power sharing agreement but returned after the intervention of SADC.