President Robert Mugabe has been building towards this moment, quietly but ruthlessly – no longer focusing his ﬁre on the opposition alone, but on rivals and dissidents in his own party, and even on his international allies.
While observers concentrate on the parliamentary elections, Mugabe himself has been looking at a longer time-frame to consolidate Mugabeism. The present polls are only one of seven major political manoeuvres in this complex web.
The elections seem unlikely to be free and fair although cosmetically there may be some minor liberalisation compared to the 2000 polls which were seriously ﬂawed. Mugabe is defying both international and even African pressure to hold a transparently fair vote.
Last July the UN Secretary General Koﬁ Annan addressed the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on the need for free elections supported by free institutions, including a free press.