Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe reads wrong speech

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, seen in a photo from 2013, will turn 92 in February.

Story highlights

  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe accidentally delivered the wrong speech on Tuesday
  • Mugabe's critics jumped on the incident as a sign the 91-year-old Mugabe is too old for his office and should step down
  • His spokesman says there was a "mix-up" in the secretarial office

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Zimbabweans generally don't laugh or get excited about President Robert Mugabe's speeches, given the level of poverty and reported human rights abuses in the southern African country.

But an unprecedented slip-up in a speech by the 91-year-old leader on Tuesday has changed the mix.
    Instead of a speech officially opening Parliament, Mugabe read his State of the Nation Address, which he had already delivered on August 25.
    After the incident, his spokesman George Charamba issued a statement saying: "There has been a mix-up of speeches resulting in a situation where His Excellency the President delivered the wrong speech.
    "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."
    But commenters on social media would not let it go that easily.
    "What if Mugabe had been given a speech about his resignation? We could be far by now," reads a message from Tomaz Madhuku he says he got from a WhatsApp group he belongs to.
    Jonathan Moyo, former minister of information, struggled to defend his boss. He said U.S. President Barack Obama had had the same thing happen to him.
    But critics of Mugabe weren't buying it.
    "It doesn't help being defensive, this is a sign that he is too old and must resign!" wrote one person identified only as Mr X, responding to that tweet.
    Mugabe, who turns 92 in February, rarely made this kind of mistake until recently.
    Last December, he shouted, "Down with Zanu PF!" -- but Zanu PF, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, is his own party.
    His critics say age is working against him. And with the Tuesday incident, the calls for his resignation got louder.
      "He has seen better days. I think it is now clear that he is no longer fit for purpose. In fact if Zimbabwe was a democracy, Parliament was supposed to go and invoke Section 96 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," said Obert Gutu, spokesman for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, speaking to journalists on Wednesday in Harare.
      "He should actually be impeached. He is now clearly unable to discharge his duties as head of state."