What is going on in Zimbabwe is appalling — a total disgrace to the country, and a serious disgrace to its strong neighbour, South Africa, and to the rest of Africa. The gains made in Africa in recent years — the successful political transition in this country, the economic progress in a number of countries, the in-stances of improved governance —are all in danger of being nullified in the eyes of the world, and of investors, by the outrageous events taking place, and being allowed to take place, in Zimbabwe. Critics have responded to this by saying, quite rightly: “How then can the election be free and fair?” But in my view the point needs to be pushed further. If there is to be any interference in the electoral process of any kind, if any pressure of this kind is to be put on any of the voters, it is quite simply not an election. If the “election” is not going to be a proper and full test of what the voters really want (as opposed to what the current government is sure they ought to want) then abandon the idea of an election altogether.