91-Year-Old President's Wits Questioned After Speech Mixup

Opponents say snafu proves Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe should resign
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2015 5:50 PM CDT
91-Year-Old President's Wits Questioned After Speech Mixup
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, seen here last month, delivered the wrong speech today, leading to questions about his fitness to rule from opponents.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Robert Mugabe, the 91-year-old president of Zimbabwe, accidentally delivered the wrong 25-minute speech during the opening of the country's parliament today, and no one said anything, Reuters reports. It was the same speech regarding Zimbabwe's struggling economy Mugabe, who's ruled the country since it was recognized 35 years ago, gave during his state of the nation address Aug. 25, according to the BBC. One reporter at the scene says everyone—sans Mugabe apparently—realized it was the wrong speech pretty quickly, but supporters still clapped dutifully. A spokesperson blamed the mixup on the president's secretarial office and said he would deliver the correct speech at a later time.

The opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, is using today's events to bolster claims Mugabe is mentally—and possibly physically—unfit to rule. "This is a historic blunder," an MDC spokesperson tells Reuters. "Anyone who is still of a sound mind would have quickly picked it up that the speech was the wrong one." Mugabe doesn't appear ill and has denied reports he has prostate cancer, but Al Jazeera reports a video of him falling after leaving a podium earlier this year went viral. According to the BBC, MDC officials, who heckled the president during the Aug. 25 delivery of the speech, remained quiet today after receiving what they claim were anonymous death threats warning against further disruptions. (More Zimbabwe stories.)

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