HARARE – With effect from November 9, the Harare International Airport will now be known as R. G Mugabe International Airport, after government agreed to rename it in honour of the long–serving Zimbabwe leader.
Mugabe, 93, is the only leader Zimbabwe has ever known since gaining independence from Britain in 1980.
The name change was initiated by the Zanu PF Youth League to honour the ruling party’s first secretary.
“With effect from November 9, 2017, Harare International Airport will be renamed R.G Mugabe International Airport,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) said in a notice dated September 6.
Transport minister Jorum Gumbo first announced the name change at the party’s 16th Annual People’s Conference in Masvingo last year, but said it would be renamed after an upgrade.
“We have Victoria Falls International Airport commissioned on November 18, we have Buffalo Range Airport built, we have Harare International Airport, your excellency, that we are working on and we are at 55 percent to the work we are doing there,”
“Still on that, following the resolution made during the congress and the last conference, Harare International Airport, we are going to rebuild it, to make it up to date with current airport trends. We are going to start that work, beginning of this next year. And to also change its name to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport according to last year’s resolution,” Gumbo said then.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced during the 2017 National Budget that Treasury planned to spend just over $10 million over the next year upgrading international airports to handle a boom in visitors.
The idea that Mugabe should be remembered by a landmark like the country’s main entry port, which is the main gateway into Zimbabwe and alternate entry point into central and southern Africa, won wide support from the ruling Zanu PF as well as the country’s intellectual elite.
The country’s largest opposition party, the MDC, however, slammed the renaming of the Harare International Airport.
“This just goes to show that Zimbabwe has been privatised into a Robert Mugabe fiefdom. There are actually more deserving heroes such as Herbert Chitepo, Lookout Masuku, Rex Nhongo and Leopold Takawira after whom the Harare International Airport could have been renamed.
“A new democratic and progressive government that will be formed after next year’s elections will promptly reverse this thoroughly undeserved renaming of Harare International Airport to R.G. Mugabe International Airport. It’s total and absolute nonsense, actually,” railed MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu.
The country’s largest airport was previously known as Salisbury Airport but was renamed to Harare Airport in 1980, when Zimbabwe became independent.