This Saturday March 29th will see the Zimbabwean Parliamentary and Presidential elections. Parliament was dissolved in January. I use the word election in the loosest sense here. Zimbabwe has refused to allow observers from Britain, the EU, the United States and Commonwealth team to monitor the elections. It is allowing observers from the ANC, Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran - all countries renowned for the integrity of their electoral processes. The ANC endorsed the 2002 elections as 'free and fair', of course it was. The list of actions undertaken by PF this year (and previously) to rig this election is long and unsurprising. I doubt anyone should be in any doubt about the credibility of this election. The activities of bookworm over recent years should be well enough known to anyone not living in a sealed cave not to merit detailed explanation. It's perhaps indicative of expectations that a week or so back he announced that any demonstrations that may occur in the event of an opposition defeat would be 'crushed'. As if he needed an excuse. Word is this will be his 'toughest' electoral challenge to date, well that's been said before. Tough perhaps being the operative word though. I'm not entirely convinced he wants to remain in office, I wonder if it's not the ghosts of Matabeleland and fear of the ICC (who must be visiting him nightly) that's driving him more these days. Dying in office would seem his best option. Who's standing: Langton Towungana is standing as an independent. Little is known about him, and he's standing on a pseudo God Fearing platform of 'transparency and accountability'. He's going nowhere. Simba Makoni is also standing as an independent. As a long term former Mugabe minister (with a spell in the Private sector) and until recently still a member of the PF politburo. Makoni had expressed a desire to run as PF candidate, I don't rate his chances. MDC leader, former union boss Morgan Tsvangirai is, sadly these days something of a spent force. This state most recently aggravated after prolonged abuse at the hands (and clubs, belts etc.) of Mugabe's security forces following his arrest back in March 2007. Incidents that eventually apparently lead to the death of his long term bodyguard. The MDC is far from a unified organisation. Acquitted of treason and having previously threatened to remove Mugabe 'by force' if he didn't step down in 2002 it's perhaps questionable how much support he's really capable of mustering. It's a sad indictment, although less of a surprise how little support he's received from neighbouring nations, especially since his most recent arrest. It's relatively easy to see what's really going on from here, at least in a big picture sense. On the ground, especially in rural provinces, simple ignorance and land reform benefits renders the situation more 'fuzzy' when people are asked to assign true responsibility for their woes. However, this year the rural vote appears more fickle. Besides, even when people understand, many will not speak openly for fear of retribution. I've heard (vote for the wrong party and ...) death threats first hand so I can't really criticise them for that. Sadly, despite most Zimbabweans being desperate for change, and the rural vote perhaps about to turn against Mugabe, I don't see a real likelihood of the outcome of this 'election' being anything other than expected, and the repercussions probably ugly either way. Still, we may yet see an unlikely surprise. Maybe I'm being pessimistic, but I have some friends in Zim and from what they tell me, I'm increasingly concerned about them.