Having intimidated the opposition sufficiently to drive off his remaining challenger to power, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said yesterday that he will be magnanimus to the opposition and "if" he wins, he will deign to speak to them:
Well, I'm sure Mugabe will find someone to talk to. If not Tsvangirai then perhaps his butler or maid. But as for legitimacy, it is hard to accept as president a man who murdered opposition workers in order to keep the rest of them away from the polls.
Addressing his last rally before polls open for the surreal one-horse race, Mr Mugabe told supporters that he would be magnanimous in victory and willing to talk with the opposition.
"Should we emerge victorious, which I believe we will, sure we won't be arrogant, we will . . . say ‘Let's sit down and talk', and talk we shall," he told the crowd on the outskirts of Harare. "So there it is, let the MDC reject it or accept it. We will continue to rule this country in the way we believe it should be ruled. This is an African country with responsible leaders."
The renewed offer from Mr Mugabe came in spite of the insistence of Morgan Tsvangirai that the time for talking would be over if the election went ahead. In an interview from his hiding place at the Dutch Embassy in Harare, the opposition leader told The Times that as soon as Mr Mugabe declared victory he would become the illegitimate leader of Zimbabwe. "And I will not negotiate with an illegitimate leader," he said.