Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, read the wrong speech Tuesday as he opened parliament, giving the same one he had delivered in last month’s state of the nation address.
“There has been a mix-up of speeches resulting in a situation where his excellency the president delivered the wrong speech,” presidential spokesman George Charamba said in a statement, which blamed the secretarial office for the blunder.
“The error is sincerely regretted and corrective measures are being considered,” the statement read.
Mugabe would read the correct speech later at a hotel in Harare, it added.
Opposition lawmakers appeared subdued as Mugabe went through the speech, which lasted less than 30 minutes.
But critics of the long-time leader, who came to power on December 31, 1987, were quick to react to the gaffe.
“This clearly goes to show that Robert Mugabe no longer has the requisite mental faculties that are needed for him to continue in office as head of state,” the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement.
“This is a sure sign of senility and grossly failing mental and physical health on the part of Mugabe,” the MDC added, calling on the president to immediately resign.
“Honestly, if he forgets that SONA (state of the nation address) is not the opening of parliament, surely I can now understand and forgive him for forgetting that we want prosperity in Zimbabwe,” activist Pride Mukono said.
The president’s trips for medical check-ups abroad have sparked speculation that his health may not allow him to run in the 2017 presidential election.