HARARE – Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, on Tuesday read the wrong speech at the opening of the third session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe.
The ailing Zanu PF leader repeated a speech he read during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) address last month word for word. This however did not stop Zanu PF MP’s from cheering their leader as rehashed the speech.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba is reported to have alerted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa about the mistake, but no action was taken.
Charamba later said the error in delivering the wrong speech was “sincerely regretted”. He added that Mugabe would read the correct speech later at a hotel in the capital Harare.
Mugabe has resisted calls to step down despite his advancing age. In his closing remarks at the Zanu PF congress in December last year Mugabe said “I am here for as long as I am still sane, with good memory and will power.”
But it does not appear the octogenarian is at his best. Last year in December at the swearing-in ceremony of his two deputies and 11 ministers at State House he mistakenly referred to vice president Phelekezela Mphoko as the new President.
He said, “Mphoko is new president, vice president” before correcting himself.
At the Zanu PF congress in December, Mugabe shocked delegates and millions watching on state TV after he unwittingly chanted the slogan “Pasi neZanu PF”.
To make matters worse his wife Grace Mugabe, ordered him off the podium using a handwritten note.
“My wife has written a note; she says I’m talking too much. That’s how I am treated even at home, so I must listen,” he chuckled before walking off.
Just before the congress Mugabe suffered a serious lapse of concentration, blurting out that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had garnered 73 percent of the disputed 2008 presidential vote.
“When we failed to, when Tsvangirai got 73 percent of the votes …,” Mugabe said before he was forcefully interjected by some securocrats who were present.
“Oh, he got 47 percent of the votes and I got 43 percent,” he corrected himself, adding, “Vanhu (people) made noise. They said don’t worry, elections, no elections. I said we should have elections, there is no winner with this 50 plus 1 percent”.