There are growing fears that Zimbabwe is heading towards another flawed election process, with analysts warning there are no signs of real reforms before ZANU PF's chosen poll date.
Robert Mugabe has insisted that fresh elections will be held next March, leaving just over five months for key changes dictated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Those changes, including security sector and media reform, were listed in the GPA as critical for the holding of free and fair, democratic elections.
But more than four years since that agreement was signed by all parties in the unity government, there is still no indication that these reforms will take place. Instead, incidents of politically motivated violence, media repression and intimidation have been growing, in what many fear is a sign of things to come.
Diaspora based commentator Wilbert Mukori told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that so much attention has been focused on the "disappointing" constitutional reform process, that the key changes needed for democratic elections have been 'ignored'.
Commenting on the constitution process, Mukori said that the process itself has been a well played 'game' by ZANU PF, to force people to accept a draft that does not guarantee a truly democratic election. He said the current draft already favours ZANU PF's demands, "with only incremental political gains" in the favour of the MDC's in government.
"The bare minimum of the constitution should have been free and fair elections. It is the red line that should have been drawn in the GPA. But now we have violence, we have no reforms, and if we don't stop it then how can the election process be anything but flawed?" Mukori asked.
Analyst Luke Zunga from the Global Zimbabwe Forum meanwhile agreed that a flawed election was likely, mainly because there is no external 'watchdog' to ensure the conditions on the ground are right for a free and fair poll.
"South Africa, as the mediators in Zimbabwe, should be taking a keen interest in the everyday happenings in Zimbabwe. But, Zimbabwe is no longer a priority for the South African government," Zunga said.
He warned that South Africa's government is dealing with serious issues of its own, a situation ZANU PF is capitalising on.
"Whatever happens regarding elections, they won't be free or fair because South Africa is not involved in what is happening day-to-day. The only way this could change is if South Africa was propelled by the MDC, who should already have started lobbying South Africa about violence. The onus really is on the MDC now," Zunga said.