Zimbabwe: The Old Fox Eludes the Hunt

With parliamentary elections set for the end of March, all eyes have been on their freeness and fairness, or lack of it. Presidential polling is two years away, so, even at 81, Robert Mugabe will continue to dominate. Unless there is a stunning opposition victory at the parliamentary polls – and this appears unlikely – he will go on defining his country’s political trajectory.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Professor Stephen Chan OBE

Professor of World Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

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.

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