Zimbabwe’s election demonstrates a dangerous trend. If bullets do not fly and heads are not broken, many outsiders, notably neighbours, are happy to declare with relief that the poll appeared broadly free and fair.
The art of stealing elections “peacefully” before the international observers arrive is advancing. In Zimbabwe, rural election rolls in areas supporting President Robert Mugabe appear to have been inflated with the names of the dead and impossibly old. Opposition area lists seem to have contracted. Local poll watchers claim it could have cost the opposition 1m votes. Activists for parties other than Zanu-PF were harassed and intimidated.