Zimbabwe's severe crisis - and a possible way out of it with a transitional government, and the new era for which it prepares the ground - demands a coherent scholarly response. 'Progress' can be employed as an organising theme across many disciplinary approaches to Zimbabwe's societal devastation. At wider levels, too, the concept of progress is fitting. It underpins 'modern', 'liberal' and 'radical' perspectives of development pervading the social sciences and humanities. Yet perceptions of 'progress' are subject increasingly to intensive critical inquiry. Their gruesome end is signified in the political projects of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF.