Slow reform cripples Zim

HARARE - Zimbabwe's power-sharing government looks unlikely to step down in 2011 as planned because it has failed to draw up the reforms needed to ensure free and fair elections, political analysts say.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's power-sharing government looks unlikely to step down in 2011 as planned because it has failed to draw up the reforms needed to ensure free and fair elections, political analysts say.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a coalition last year to end a political and economic crisis, but mutual suspicion and strategic considerations are delaying democratic reforms meant to clear the way for a poll next year.

Under a global political agreement that brought together Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a new constitution should be written by December.

That process is seven months behind schedule.

Critics say Zanu-PF has deliberately stalled media reforms for strategic reasons but the MDC has not pushed hard enough.

"It is becoming quite clear that we are not going to get elections next year or even in 2012 because the whole political process is way out of schedule," said Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe.

"For political reasons both Zanu-PF and the MDC are still pretending that we may get a general election in 2011, but the reality on the ground does not support that assertion," he said.

An early election is unlikely to appeal to Mugabe, 86, as it would increase calls for him to make way for someone younger.

Potential successors also need time to organise their political forces to take over the Zanu-PF machinery and oil it for a fight against Tsvangirai. - Reuters

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