All eyes on Zimbabwe.
All indications have been that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has overwhelming support from the voters of Zimbabwe. But that doesn't mean they will "win" the election. They have already out-polled Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in the past. And each time Mugabe rigged the election results and announced he was the winner. Adding his percentage at the polls, albeit a fake percentage, to the seats in parliament that he appoints personally has always given him a comfortable majority.
I believe Zimbabwe could be on the knife's edge. Mugabe and his socialist followers have utterly destroyed the country. Even in the districts where his party has dominated the people are lined up to oust Mugabe from power. But there are also indications that Mugabe is planning to commit fraud again, with hundreds of thousands of dead people appearing on the voting rolls and almost an equal number of "extra" ballots being printed up by the government. While an amazing number of deceased are appearing on election rolls equally large numbers of previously registered voters have been told they can't vote for various reasons.
The question is whether Mugabe has enough sanity left to realize that if he defrauds the voters that they may will rise up and remove him violently -- something he well deserves. But Mugabe's sanity has long been suspect, with inside speculation attributing his madness to advanced stages of syphilis. It is questionable whether he can count on the loyalty of the police force or much of the military anymore. He has become increasingly unable to hand them the bribes they want to keep him in power.
It could be that Mugabe realizes he has lost. In which case he will leave the country or risk his life if he tries to stay in one of his many mansions. If he tries to hold on to power revolution could result. With hatred being so widespread he may meet the fate that men like him deserve, unless he flees before the angry mobs can hack him to death. Many Zimbabweans realize that a revolt may take place and are leaving the country.
But just as this election will tell us much about Zimbabwe it will actually tell us more about the African National Congress in South Africa. While the West refuses to criticize the party of their "saint" Nelson Mandela the reality is that the ANC is an authoritarian party very similar to Zanu-PF. And South Africa's regime, dominated by the Communist Party, has continued to help keep Mugabe in power and lied on his behalf. The South African government notoriously declared one election in Zimbabwe "free and fair" before the voting actually started -- yet the election was dominated by Mugabe's thugs beating and killing opposition party supporters.
I remember an old advertisement in a South African magazine some years ago. It was from the Zimbabwean tourist agency encouraging South Africans to come vacation in Zim. This was at the time when everyone was pretending Zimbabwe was the model for reconciliation and successful governance. The headline to the ad said: "Come to Zimbabwe. See your future." And that headline echoes the thoughts of every South African at one time or another. Is the future of South Africa going to be that of Zimbabwe? Hundreds of thousands have answered "yes" to that question and left the country. Millions more would leave if they could. And so far President Thabo Mbeki has only given his people more reasons to worry.
UPDATE: MDC poll watchers have said that their party is winning an overwhelming majority at local polling stations. They said that all the Harare based seats in parliament went to the MDC as well as all the seats in Bulawayo but one. Mugabe's cronies, especially those in the military, are calling the announcement a "coup d'etat" which is a dangerous sign. They are indicating, by this, that they will not respect the vote results. They insist that only the results that Mugabe's regime announces on Monday will be legitimate. But in district after district local counting is showing Mugabe losing and the public is celebrating. If Mugabe tries to steal this election that celebration will turn to rage and Zimbabwe could explode.