conditions do not exist for free and fair elections right now in Zimbabwe. There has been too much violence, too much intimidation. A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy.
Exactly right. But he adds:
the elections should be postponed until the right conditions are in place. I would strongly discourage the authorities from going ahead with the run-off on Friday. It will only deepen divisions within the country and produce a result that cannot be credible.
Strange advice to give, really – appealing to a better nature whose existence is constantly being refuted. Everyone knows Mugabe cares nothing for divisions in the country nor for the credibility of his sham election – so this amounts to saying ‘hold off on the elections, Bob, until you’ve become a nicer person’.
Democracy works when those involved are willing to be graceful losers and magnanimous winners. Mugabe is certainly neither, and it’s hard to say whether Tsvangirai and his allies would have been the latter. Zimbabwe isn’t going to become a well-functioning liberal democracy anyime soon. What it most urgently needs is a government that will rebuild the economy and meet humanitarian needs rather than brutalising the people, and it would have to be a government that won’t inspire significant armed resistance. Again, I don’t know whether the MDC could fulfil that role.
Unless Mugabe and his inner circle have an incentive to hand over power to someone more reasonable, it’s hard to see anything other than a continuing collapse.