Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe read out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday, an error which the main opposition quickly used to question whether Africa’s oldest leader was still of a sound mind. Mugabe, the only ruler since the country was recognised in 1980, delivered the same speech he gave on August 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.
But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is critical of Mugabe’s long rule, have said the blunder called into question his fitness to hold office.
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.
During the speech, the MDC members sat quietly, while ruling ZANU-PF party supporters clapped at regular intervals.
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. (Sydney Herald)