Zimbabwe to rename Harare Airport after Mugabe for being an 'African liberation war icon'

The name change is likely to attract criticism with Mugabe already having various landmarks in Zimbabwe named after him

Zimbabwe's Harare International Airport will in November this year be renamed to Robert Mugabe International Airport in honour of the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader.

“I have made the request to Cabinet for approval to initiate the process and it was approved. So I am already engaging the stakeholders locally and internationally. We should be through by November,” Transport minister Joram Gumbo told NewsDay.

The paper said a notice had been issued to pilots and operators worldwide informing them that from November 9, Harare International Airport would be known as the Robert Mugabe International Airport.

The international aviation authority is expected to give an airport code for the new name.

Robert Mugabe Day

Mugabe already has a national holiday named after him. Robert Mugabe Day was declared a national holiday by the government on August 21 and will be observed as from next year. The day, February 21, is the president’s birthday.

The declaration came a barely a week earlier after the government announced that the Cabinet had approved $1 billion for the construction of a new university to be named after the 93-year-old ruler.

The Robert Mugabe University is to be built in Mazowe, 36km northwest of the capital Harare where the president’s family owns large tracts of farmland.

Critics say the university is a waste of money given that the country is cash-strapped and grappling with an unemployment rate estimated at over 90 per cent.

'African liberation war icon'

Gumbo said there was nothing amiss in naming the airport after Mugabe, whom he described as a war hero, empowerment and African icon whose history and legacy should be preserved by giving him such an honour.

“If you see his contribution to the liberation struggle, education and empowerment of the people of Zimbabwe and Africa, you will see that he has a rich legacy that has to be preserved and his history should not be erased even as people visit our country,” Gumbo said.

The process of renaming the airport, according to Gumbo, involves informing the international aviation industry so that codes are changed to reflect the name change.

Already various landmarks in Zimbabwe including roads and buildings are named after President Mugabe. The renaming is likely to attract criticism.

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