Watching last night's shocking BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 News reports from inside Zimbabwe, it is hard to see how Robert Mugabe can fail to steal the presidential election. His torture camps for dissidents, his hijacking of the media and his use of the state security apparatus to cling to power stack the odds against Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party. Yet, even amidst such gruesome provocation, people were telling reporters that they would vote against Mugabe.
The United Nations attitude has predictably been low key, as its wont when any country goes to war against its own people. It should be condemning in the strongest terms the destruction of democracy. But the real tragedy has been the lack of guts among many of Mugabe's Southern African neighbours, not least the gloriously wrongheaded South African leader Thabo Mbeki, whose continued embrace of Mugabe amidst it all has succeeded in making his successor Jacob Zuma appear statesmanlike.
That is why we should salute the Swazi parliamentarian Marwick Khumalo (pictured), who heads the Southern African observers of this increasingly farcical poll, for his no-nonsense condemnation of the violence, for laying the blame where it belongs at ZANU-PF's door and for promising not to endorse the run-off if the violence continues. And we should also congratulate Botswana for its strong condemnation, the more powerful as it comes from a country which has a successful democracy since independence.