President Robert Mugabe in the Harare parliament …..
What an extraordinary chain of events. Mr Mugabe, 91, delivered the wrong speech at the official opening of parliament, one he had already made there three weeks before.
The apologists jumped in and said it could happen to anyone; he was given the wrong text by his staff. It had even happened to Barach Obama…
Not true. What did happen at the White House: visiting Irish premier Brian Cowen was to speak at a St Patrick’s Day event. When he stepped up to the teleprompter screen it was mistakenly loaded only with Obama’s speech. After 18 words of welcome to the guests, Cowen realised they weren’t his own and stopped. Obama made a joke of it, reversed roles, and mimicked what Cowen might have said. Mistakes do happen, but Obama hardly made the ‘wrong’ speech.
This time, Mr Mugabe ploughed through the 25-minute state of the nation address he gave to members of parliament on August 24. No one appeared agitated to hear it again, his own MPs applauded at times as if oblivious it was an old text and wasn’t the usual outline of the legislative agenda for the year ahead expected annually at the state opening of the House of Assembly and the Senate in Harare .
The president’s office quickly admitted the gaffe, embarrassingly for all, not least for the increasingly frail nonagarian Mr Mugabe. Had I been his spin doctor, I would have said the state of the nation address was revamped and repeated to reemphasise its importance and the lengthy parliamentary agenda was being distributed separately because of time constraints.
Devious? But aren’t all proper spin doctors? I am retired now and I am not available.
At the traditional parliamentary luncheon afterwards, Mr Mugabe also made some equally extraordinary remarks on how we will likely be castrating rapists and child molesters.
“In Sharia law, they say if you steal, the hand must go. So if you rape, what must go?”
In his unprepared off-the-cuff speeches, the Zimbabwe leader often talks bluntly and crudely and gets laughter.
But this was no laughing matter, he told laughers at lunch, “because we are considering it seriously.”
So, all men, be warned, beware, he said