Mugabe reads wrong speech, opponents question his fitness

Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe reads out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (SEPTEMBER 15 , 2015) (REUTERS) – Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe read out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday (september 15), an error which the main opposition quickly used to question whether Africa’s oldest leader was still of a sound mind.

Mugabe arrived at parliament in a vintage black Rolls-Royce car with his wife Grace, and inspected a guard of honour. The 91-year-old leader was also treated to a fly-past by three fighter jets and to a 21-gun salute.

Mugabe, the only ruler the southern African nation has known since it was recognised in 1980, delivered the same speech he gave on Aug. 25, pinning his hopes on China to help revive Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

Mugabe finished the speech without interruption and his spokesman blamed officials, adding the president would read the correct speech at a later date. In fact he read the correct speech at a parliamentary luncheon on Tuesday after the opening of parliament.

But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is critical of Mugabe’s long rule, said the blunder called into question his fitness to hold office.

“We don’t expect such a thing especially at a time when we expecting some guidance on how to lift our country out of the economic troubles that we find ourselves in. So I’m sure they will dress this up, its an embarrassing situation which l think should not be repeated,” said Harare resident John Motsi.

Mugabe shows no visible signs of illness and has denied reports that he suffers from prostate cancer. He has dismissed a fall at Harare airport on April. 4 as a simple slip.

However another Harare resident said that this mistake shows that it’s time for Mugabe to hand of the reigns to a younger crop of leaders.

“It actually shows that the time is up for the president he has to hand over the button to the other crop of leaders who can take this country forward. In other words this actually shows that he is out of touch with reality and also as it stands the economy has reached a nose dive, there is no development thus taking place unemployment is sky rocketing people are jobless there are hungry there is nothing to talk about here in Zimbabwe in as much as the economy is concerned,” said Austin Muysvanga.

Earlier parliament suspended live television and radio broadcasting of Mugabe’s speech after the MDC threatened to disrupt the event.

The opposition booed and heckled Mugabe about the deteriorating economy during his last speech in August.

MDC member of parliament Innocent Gonese told parliament that the MDC would disrupt proceedings to protest against anonymous death threats to opposition MPs if they heckled Mugabe again.

Speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda, however, warned the MDC they would face contempt charges. Broadcasting was then suspended before Mugabe started his speech.

During the speech, the MDC members sat quietly, while ruling ZANU-PF party supporters clapped at regular intervals.