President Robert Mugabe mistakenly referred to his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma as Nelson Mandela, and then in an attempt to correct his mistake suggested South Africa’s first black leader was DEAD, reports said on Friday.

Mugabe made the gaffe while addressing SADC leaders at a weekend summit on Zimbabwe hosted by South Africa, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported, quoting “unimpeachable” sources.

After Zuma, SADC’s point man on Zimbabwe, had presented a report, Mugabe took the floor and began: “May I compliment our facilitator for the report given verbally. We would want it in writing. This is different from Livingstone [SADC troika summit] where we didn’t see the report.

“We were not happy with what happened. I have spoken to Mandela, sorry Zuma, about it. We would want to rebut some allegations.”

In an attempt to brush aside his mistake, Mugabe is alleged to have said: “May Mandela’s soul rest in peace.”

Mugabe, 87 this year, is said to have quickly realised his mistake again and added: “I hope he is in good health.”

The Independent said Mugabe’s “slip-ups suggested loss of memory or confusion due to pressure”.

Mugabe, in power since 1980, is set to lead his party into the next elections now expected next year even as media reports suggest that his health is failing. Zanu PF is believed to want early elections while Mugabe’s health can still hold.

(Source)