The Zimbabwean parliament has expunged the wrong speech delivered by President Robert Mugabe at the official opening of the Third Session of the country’s Eighth Parliament Tuesday and replaced it with one presented by his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, during a special sitting of the House Wednesday.
“I put the question that the case of the speech presented by His Excellency the President Comrade RG Mugabe at the official opening of the third session of the eighth parliament be withdrawn and substituted by the correct version and that the incorrect text be expunged from the records of parliament,” said Speaker Jacob Mudenda after Mnangagwa had delivered the right speech.
Mnangagwa set the legislative agenda for parliament on behalf of his boss who read a speech he presented to the same House three weeks before during his State of the Nation Addressing with the opposition saying it is time the 91-year old Mr. Mugabe retired as this would have never happened in his hey days where he crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s by himself before making any presentations.
The tabling of the right speech came after two hours of intense debate during which most Members of Parliament from both sides of the aisle condemned the mix-up which led President Mugabe to deliver a wrong speech.
Some opposition lawmakers said it was a grave mistake for Mr. Mugabe to deliver the wrong speech at such an important occasion, stressing that it ridiculed the aging Zimbabwean leader, who has ruled the country for more than 35 years.
The lawmakers called for an investigation into the incident and urged the government to punish officials in charge of presidential speeches in Mr. Mugabe’s office.
Among those who called for the investigation from the opposition were Nelson Chamisa, Thokozani Khupe, Prince Sibanda, Prisicilla Misihairabwi Mushonga and Abednico Bhebhe.
From the ruling Zanu PF, only Munyaradzi Kereke said what happened Tuesday was unacceptable.
Chamisa added those responsible for bringing the wrong speech to parliament should be fired.
“What it does Mr. Speaker Sir is that it positions our President in an invidious position but not only is it about the president, it is about our country and this is what we are supposed to go to the bottom of; what is it that caused this; what accounted for this mishap,” said Chamisa.
MDC-T vice-president, Khupe, demanded an apology from Vice President and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying the executive had embarrassed the president.
“What I expected from the Vice President the moment he opened his mouth was for him to apologize to this House and indeed to the nation to say we are very sorry,” said Khupe.
Equally concerned was Misihairabwi Mushonga of the MDC formation led by Professor Welshman Ncube, who said she was concerned the President’s Office was showing gross inefficiency and incompetence as this had happened before.
“I remember at one time having traveled with the president to China and he was standing up to give a speech as the visiting president at this particular dinner; the speech was not there,” she said. “For a long time people were running around to find the speech. We then were asked to eat until the speech would come.”
Zanu PF lawmaker Munyaradzi Kereke was also worried about yesterday’s development but noted that it is important for parliament to accept the correct presidential speech so that parliamentary business could go on.
“Submissions Mr. Speaker Sir by the earlier speakers and their desire to find justice done to whosoever could have caused that mishap; that is a very valid submission to say let’s find out what happened,” Kereke said. “Indeed the business of parliament should be taken seriously.”
Kereke’s contribution was far much different from fellow Zanu PF lawmakers Mandy Chimene, Oliver Mandipaka and Joseph Chinotimba who felt that President Mugabe’s blunder was just a simple mistake.
At the same time, Mnangagwa refused to apologize saying the executive had noted the mistake hence it was correcting it in parliament.
According to the correct speech which was published by the state-controlled Herald newspaper, some of the Bills that would be considered in the current session include Public Health, Zimbabwe Standards Regulatory Authority, State Procurement and the General Laws Amendment Bills.