On March 31 there is an election scheduled in Zimbabwe. It will be buried beneath all of the headlines emanating from the Middle East, but this is a crucial moment for sub-Saharan Africa and for democracy. . . .

Mugabe was once a hero in southern Africa. Unfortunately, this status has lingered in some circles long after the justification for it evaporated. Whatever credit Mugabe deserves for having led the liberation struggle against Ian Smith and his white supremacists pales when placed next to his misdeeds of the last ten or fifteen years. The Mugabe of 1980 was a hero. The Mugabe of 2004 is a despot.

Yes. And though I’d like to be hopeful, I’ll be surprised if these elections make a difference, given the absence of any serious external pressure, even from neighboring South Africa.