The calculation of Mugabe and his cronies seems to be twofold. First, they believe that the Zimbabwean people have been bled dry by economic collapse and mass repression – and so are incapable of mounting a successful insurrection.
Secondly, Mugabe is counting on his allies in the rest of the region – notably President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa – to block external intervention. Neither of these assumptions are foolish – it’s silly to fall in with the British media portrayal of Mugabe as an irrational madman.
Strangely enough Mugabe’s thinking mirrors that of Ian Smith, who gloated back in 1971, “We have the happiest Africans in the world.” Smith believed that he could survive as long as the apartheid regime in South Africa backed him.