Mugabe summons MPs after speech mix-up

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has summoned MPs to a special session, a day after he read out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament.

Mr Mugabe, 91, is expected to deliver the correct speech during Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting.

On Tuesday, he accidentally read the same state-of-the-nation address he had already delivered on 25 August when he was heckled by opposition MPs.

The error has been blamed on a mix-up in the president’s secretarial office.

The incident has prompted questions from members of the opposition over whether the nonagenarian president remains fit to lead the country.

The state broadcaster, which cancelled its live feed of Tuesday’s speech, called on MPs to show up for an extraordinary session of parliament on Wednesday, says the BBC’s Brian Hungwe in the capital Harare.

After Mr Mugabe began speaking, it was not long before it dawned on those present that they had heard it all before, our reporter said.

Opposition MPs belonging to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reportedly kept quiet during the speech, as ruling Zanu-PF party supporters clapped at regular intervals.

However MDC spokesman Obert Gutu later told Reuters it was “a historic blunder”, adding: “Anyone who is still of a sound mind would have quickly picked it up that the speech was the wrong one.”

The first time Mr Mugabe read the speech, opposition MPs sang protest songs against his 10-point plan to solve the country’s economic crisis.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said the error in delivering the wrong speech was “sincerely regretted”. The president later read the correct speech at a hotel in the capital Harare.

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Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is Africa’s oldest leader.