HARARE – The Zanu PF government has revealed plans to rename the Harare International Airport to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in honour of the country’s long serving ruler and the party’s first secretary.
Transport and Infrastructure minister Joram Gumbo told Zanu PF delegates at the just-ended party’s conference in Masvingo that plans were afoot to rename the country’s biggest airport in honour of Mugabe.
“…We have Victoria Falls International Airport commissioned on November 18, we have Buffalo Range Airport built, we have Harare International Airport, your Excellency, that were are working on and we are at 55 percent to the work we are doing there,” said Gumbo.
“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,” he added.
Most of the country’s airports need an upgrade and recently Parliament was told of the sorry state of affairs at the country’s major airports.
In a damning assessment of the aviation industry, the portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development recently reported a frequent breakdown of radios, and in some cases, pilots resorting to use of cell phones to communicate with controllers.
The report revealed how basic equipment such as microphones, headsets and handsets are in a sorry state and in short supply with no backup communication systems in the event of a breakdown of the equipment.
The committee chaired by Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna expressed fears that low flying aircraft were plying routes with very limited radio contact with Air Traffic Controllers a situation that had the potential to cause collisions.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the issue of renaming the airport might be a plot to show Mugabe as more superior compared to the late Joshua Nkomo, whose name was used for the smaller Bulawayo airport.
“…The naming of Harare airport under Mugabe can either be a big deal or nonevent depending on where one comes from. To those in office who regard Mugabe as their hero for the so-called black economic empowerment and infrastructure development post-independence the naming of the airport is befitting,’ said Saungweme.
“Politically those in Zanu PF who mooted this idea want to perpetuate the political fallacy that Mugabe is a greater figure than Nkomo hence naming a bigger airport to that in Bulawayo in his name.
“But given Mugabe’s pathetic and chaotic economic and infrastructure development policies, naming such a strategic piece of infrastructure in his name is mockery. We know how Mugabe’s presidency has affected our aviation industry with Air Zimbabwe being literally run down and even other airlines no longer fuel their planes at that airport but prefer Lusaka and Johannesburg,” added Saungweme.