One day after reading the wrong speech at the opening of parliament, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe called on the members to gather Wednesday for a special session in the capital Harare. The 91-year-old leader was expected to read the correct speech during the unusual meeting, BBC News reported.
Mugabe, who has ruled the South African nation for 35 years, accidentally delivered the same speech Tuesday that he had read for his state-of-the-nation address to parliament Aug. 25, during which he was heckled by opposition legislators about the country’s sinking economy. The longtime leader gave the speech he intended to make at a hotel in Harare later in the day. Mugabe’s spokesman has blamed the error on his secretarial office and said the president would read the correct speech at a later date.
"The mix-up happened in his secretarial office. Therefore the delivery in parliament should be set aside," presidential spokesman George Charamba was quoted as saying by the online edition of Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper.
The longtime leader finished his speech at parliament Tuesday with periodic claps and cheers from his ruling ZANU-PF party supporters and without interruption from opposition members. However, immediately following the speech, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change quickly called out the oversight and questioned whether Africa’s oldest leader was still fit to hold office.
"This is a historic blunder. Anyone who is still of a sound mind would have quickly picked it up that the speech was the wrong one," Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Obert Gutu told Reuters Tuesday. "But it dovetails with what we in the MDC have been saying, that Robert Mugabe is no longer fit for purpose. He should resign.”
Prior to Mugabe’s speech, parliament suspended live television and radio broadcasting Tuesday amid threats from the main opposition to disrupt the event. The Movement for Democratic Change had said it would interrupt the longtime leader to protest against anonymous death threats to opposition legislators who had booed Mugabe during his state of the nation address.
Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe following the country’s independence in 1980. He then assumed the new office of president in 1987 after the position of prime minister was abolished. He has ruled the southern African country ever since.