Zimbabwe will in November rename its main airport after the country’s long-serving ruler, President Robert Mugabe.
Transport minister Rugrare Gumbo on Friday told a local newspaper that preparations were at an advanced stage to rename the Harare International Airport.
“I made the request to Cabinet for approval to initiate the process and it was approved,” the minister told NewsDay.
“I am already engaging stakeholders locally and internationally. We would be through by November,” he added.
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
On August 18, the government declared February 21 as Robert Mugabe Day, a national holiday to be observed starting next year. The day is the president’s birthday.
Barely a week earlier, 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. The institution will be located in the area 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.
In renaming the airport, Mr Gumbo said the decision was made after taking into consideration that the president was an African liberation war icon.
“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,” he said.
Already various landmarks in Zimbabwe including roads and buildings are named after President Mugabe. The renaming is likely to attract criticism.