“Elections this year are out. We need to create a conducive environment and strengthen institutions,” said Lindiwe Zulu, a member of the three-person mediation team for Zimbabwe.
“There is clear acceptance by all three parties that they need time for doing all the work that needs to be done,” Zulu told a conference to discuss Zimbabwe’s political future.
Last year, a frustrated President Robert Mugabe said he wanted Zimbabwe to hold elections in 2011 to end his two-year-old power-sharing government with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, formed to stem a political crisis and stop an economic meltdown in the wake of violent and contested polls in 2008.
But the veteran leader appears to have abandoned the call for a rush vote after regional leaders insisted at a March summit that Zimbabwe draft a new constitution as agreed in the power-sharing deal before going to the poll.
Several Zimbabwean leaders, including Tsvangirai, have said elections will not be possible before the constitutional reforms are finalised.
Last month, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said polls could be held as late as 2013.
But Zulu, who is South African President Jacob Zuma’s foreign affairs adviser, said the country was moving “very fast” toward a new vote.
“I can tell you the wheel is moving very fast. There are going to be elections in Zimbabwe. What is happening in Zimbabwe now cannot go on forever,” she said.
“At some point it has to stop.”
The referendum process on drafting the new constitution is set to resume in September, following repeated delays over outbreaks of violence mostly blamed on Mugabe supporters.