For a man so deluded about his past achievements, Robert Mugabe has a painfully clear understanding of his prospects at the polls. His rivals for the Zimbabwean presidency “may win some seats”, he said recently, “but they cannot win the majority. Impossible.”
Few would gainsay him. Zimbabwe’s opposition movement is more vocal than in past years, but more divided. Its voters can expect systematic intimidation this Saturday from police at polling stations. Constituencies have been redrawn in favour of the ruling Zanu (PF) party. The count has been centralised and will be supervised behind closed doors by presidential appointees. There is not even a pretence of fair election coverage in the state media, and in any case voting, for millions, will take second place to the more urgent business of survival. This is why Mr Mugabe’s election forecast is likely to be accurate. It is a tragedy for Zimbabweans; it is also proof of a colossal failure of international diplomacy.