ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has again read out the wrong speech, repeating September’s blunder that led to calls for him to resign.
Speaking at an annual conference of his ruling ZANU-PF party in the resort town of Victoria Falls, the 91-year-old read the wrong script for about 30 seconds before being handed the correct one.
The mistake came as Mr Mugabe warned his county’s military and security services to stay out of politics, saying one of the major problems confronting the party was ambitious officials angling for positions.
In September the veteran leader read a 25-minute speech through to the end, apparently unaware that he was delivering the same text he presented during his state of the nation address the previous month.
One of the last from a political generation that included the late South African president Nelson Mandela, Mr Mugabe is expected to be confirmed at the conference as ZANU-PF candidate for the next presidential election in 2018, when he will be 94.
The next ZANU-PF elective conference is in 2019, when a new leader will be chosen.
Questions remain over succession plan
Senior military sources in the southern African nation say the security establishment is deeply loyal to Mr Mugabe, who they see as the main stabilising figure in the country and the ruling party.
They however have different views on who should take over from Mr Mugabe when he either retires or dies.
“People were coming to me asking whether it is good that the military, the police, the intelligence are meddling and standing behind different candidates. Let’s stop that completely, we are ruining the party that way,” Mr Mugabe said in the televised speech.
Africa’s oldest leader, Mr Mugabe is the only ruler the nation has known since independence from Britain in 1980.
Political analysts say he has positioned himself to be president for life while his wife, Grace, who was propelled into the top echelons of the ruling party last year, has emerged as a ZANU-PF powerbroker in her own right.
Mr Mugabe is presiding over an economy that is struggling to emerge from a catastrophic recession and is grappling with low prices of commodity exports and a drought that has left a third of the population in need of food aid.