Zimbabwe

Mugabe gave wrong speech to parliament - spokesperson

2015-09-15 18:04
(City Press)

(City Press)

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Harare - President Robert Mugabe read out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday, his spokesperson has confirmed.

George Charamba said in a statement to the official Herald newspaper: "There has been a mix-up of speeches resulting in a situation where the president delivered the wrong speech."

The state broadcaster had taken the significant step of not broadcasting the proceedings live, following threats from opposition MPs that they would heckle the 91-year-old leader, so the fact that he had given the wrong speech did not emerge immediately.

But there had been hints already that something not quite right had happened.

Clarkson Mambo, a local journalist, tweeted at midday: "Speech is done but am confused. Most issues talked about same as in #Sona2015." Sona refers to Mugabe's State of the Nation address in parliament in August, when he was heckled by opposition MPs.

Charamba blamed a mix-up in the president's secretary's office.

"The mix-up happened in his secretarial office, therefore the delivery in parliament should be set aside. The error is sincerely regretted and corrective measures are being considered," he was quoted as saying in an online update to the Herald.

There are reports that Mugabe was to deliver his speech at a formal luncheon to mark the opening of parliament later on Tuesday. 

The ageing president, who has been in power since 1980, generally appears in good health though he is occasionally photographed snoozing - or appearing to - at formal events.

Legislator Jessie Majome said in a post to Facebook that she had "hardly heard" Mugabe's opening address to parliament because she was distracted by death threats she had received earlier in the day.

"I have received a death threat at 1013hrs and another one at 1135hrs on my Econet line from 'Death' saying 'Warning!! Immunity ends in Parliament. If you step outside you become an ordinary citizen. Do the wise thing and not disturb proceedings in Parliament."

She named five other opposition MPs that she said had also received death threats. The Harare West MP said Mugabe's speech was heard "in deathly silence". 

Majome posted:"Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I shall not fear for thou art with me and thy shield and thy staff comfort me still."

Criticising or insulting Mugabe can still lead to arrest. The state broadcaster has often been slammed by the opposition for its perceived bias though government loyalists point out that sections of the private press are equally biased in favour of the opposition.

Well-known rights activist Takura Zhangazha tweeted: "Whatever pretence we have as Zimbabweans at democracy today was put to rest with state media's blackout of parliament's opening."

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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