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The crocodile swims in murky waters

The reviled Obert Mpofu, who has been accused in parliament of demanding vast bribes when Minister of Mines, is now Home Minister.

The Crocodile has not yet dared to scrunch the former first lady, even though he reckons she tried to assassinate him (with poisoned ice-cream).

The economy is still dire.

About 90% of working-age people lack formal jobs.

The legions reduced to hawking on the streets of Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, are preyed on by ZANU-PF thugs demanding pay-offs.

Electricity and water are intermittent, even in hospitals.

ATMs are empty.

State workers’ wages are paid months late.*

In a residual population of 13m, 3m survive on food handouts from America and Britain.

Perhaps 3m Zimbabweans have fled abroad.

The biggest question-mark hangs over the elections.

The voters’ roll, which was manipulated in 2013, has been updated quite well.

The electoral commission that used to pander to Mr Mugabe has a new chairperson claiming independence.

Mr Mnangagwa has lifted Mr Mugabe’s ban on election observers from the West, including the European Union and the Commonwealth.

“I’m very happy that the Doubting Thomases can come in,” he says.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been torn by infighting, before and even during the demise of Morgan Tsvangirai, its founding leader.

His death on February 14th provoked a massive outpouring of grief in Harare that rattled the government.

It may be easier for the main opposition, made up of three endlessly splintering alliances, to sort itself out now that Mr Tsvangirai is gone.

Nelson Chamisa, 40, an articulate lawyer who appeals to young urbanites, could rally it ahead of the election. It may well sweep the cities, as it has done before.

But ZANU-PF’s brutally effective machine is expected to wrap up the more numerous rural populace, who are easier to intimidate.

Civic groups say the party’s heavies have persuaded villagers that how they vote can be detected via the barcodes of their biometric registration slips.

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