HARARE – With the haste of a man not certain of history’s judgment of him, President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday renamed 10 roads in all provinces after himself.
Enterprise Road in Harare, which leads out to the city’s most affluent suburbs, will now bear the Zanu PF leader’s name.
Yet if a Harare City Council resolution to rename the road in 2012 had passed, Enterprise Road would be Solomon Mujuru Road, named after the former liberation war hero and former army commander. Ignatius Chombo, then the local government minister, claimed that the local authority required his ministry’s and Cabinet approval before making the name change.
Perhaps to appease the Mujuru family in the new honours announced on Thursday, Kirkman Road which goes past the suburb of Dzivarasekwa is to be renamed Solomon Mujuru Drive.
In Bulawayo, Sixth Avenue, the road leading out to the Renkini Bus Terminus and western suburbs like Mzilikazi, Entumbane, Luveve and Cowdray Park, will now carry the president’s name as Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Way.
Eight other roads in Kwekwe, Chinhoyi, Gweru, Chipinge, Bindura, Mutare, Chegutu and Masvingo are having their names changed to Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The announcement was made by acting information minister Mangaliso Moyo following a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Outraged Zimbabweans took to social media to slate the government for renaming infrastructure it had not built and was failing to maintain.
“Being president after a coup doesn’t make one a national icon. Mnangagwa is forcing himself into a historical space he has not earned, and this aberration will be corrected,” the journalist Chofamba Sithole said on Twitter.
MDC vice president Tendai Biti tweeted: “The public hospital system has collapsed. Citizens are dying like flies. The power blackouts are now permanent. Hyperinflation has spiralled out of control. But they sat and named roads after themselves. Easily the worst government in the history of governments.”
MDC secretary Charlton Hwende suggested that local authorities which are under the control of the party would resist the move.
“These urban roads are owned by our councils, the same councils maintain these roads with funds from rate payers who rejected Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Hwende said. “He is illegitimate, so he can’t impose himself on our council roads. The law is clear and must be followed.”
But a lawyer who spoke to ZimLive said a directive would come from the ministry of local government to the local authorities which they were legally bound to effect.
The roads soon to carry Mnangagwa’s name in the other cities and towns are Hughes Street in Masvingo, Edgar Peacock Road in Mutare, Main Street in Gweru, A5 Road in Kwekwe, Chinhoyi-Chegutu Road in Chinhoyi, Main Street in Chipinge, Etherton Road in Bindura and Henry Hartley Road in Chegutu.
Dozens of other roads in the major cities are also having their names changed in honour of independence war heroes and historic African and international figures. South African anti-apartheid icon Oliver Tambo and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, the fifth leader of the Soviet Union, were among the honours.
Harare Hospital is to be renamed Sally Mugabe Hospital after the former first lady, while Mutare Hospital is being renamed Victoria Chitepo Hospital. Zimlive