There’s an uproar over Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to rename ten roads in eight urban centres after himself. Following a cabinet meeting on Thursday, it was announced that numerous roads countrywide would be renamed after liberation heroes — most of whom had died. But it is the number of roads named after the sitting president that has rubbed many up the wrong way. Former deputy prime minister in the inclusive government of 2009 to 2013, Prof Arthur Mutambara, told TimesLIVE that the renaming of the roads in Mnangagwa’s name was a move by a failed leader who was hell-bent on paving over his shortcomings.
“An incompetent Mnangagwa wants to immortalise himself. All the other name changes are to cover up this wicked ambition. Whether he falls or prevails, he wants immortality. Zimbabweans will be calling his name in eight cities every day, forever. That is the ‘big idea’ while the country degenerates into unprecedented political and economic mayhem,” he said.
Some local authorities run by the MDC Alliance are mooting the possibility of blocking the name changes. An MDC Alliance councillor from Harare said that changes to road names were the responsibility of local government. As such, they would try to block the decision.
“According to the Urban Councils Act passed in 2018 section 212(1) signed by the minister of local government, renaming streets or numbering of structures is a prerogative of the local authority. So if we don’t endorse it, by law it shouldn’t go through,” he said. In a move taken from the Robert Mugabe playbook, earlier this month Mnangagwa unveiled his own statue at Masvingo Airport. Mugabe once received his own statue at State House. The larger-than-life artwork was a gift from sculptor Sylvester Mugari to Mnangagwa.
During his time, Mugabe also saw roads named after him. Just before the coup which ultimately led to the rise of his former blue-eyed lieutenant Mnangagwa, Mugabe oversaw the renaming of the Harare International Airport to Robert Mugabe International Airport. When dislodged from power, war veterans toyed with the idea of removing Mugabe’s name from the airport because he had become a “sellout”.
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