Having agreed with the three principals in Zimbabwe's unity government that they should prepare a road map to 2011 elections, South African president Jacob Zuma has asked negotiators for the three co-governing political parties in Harare to prepare a draft with specifics for implementation to lead the nation to elections next year.
Political analysts said the move signaled that Pretoria and the region are exasperated by the seemingly intractable crisis in Harare and are resigned to early elections.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti also signaled that preparations for an election are on course in earmarking US$100 million in his 2011 budget to fund a constitutional referendum, electoral commission preparations and widely anticipated national elections.
Lindiwe Zulu, an international relations adviser to Mr. Zuma, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that negotiations will soon begin in Harare as to the elections.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said President Zuma must widen his consultations beyond the unity government political parties to civil society stakeholders.
Though President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have indicated their willingness to go to the country, not everyone in Harare is keen on elections.
Business leaders told Vice President Joice Mujuru at a breakfast meeting on Thursday that holding elections next year will hobble the national economic recovery.
Confederation of Zimbabwe industry President Joseph Kanyekanye, who attended that meeting, said he told Mujuru that Zimbabwe should re-engage the West and the Commonwealth to address its economic woes before calling elections.
Economist Rejoice Ngwenya told VOA reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that elections will cause further instability which will discourage foreign investment.