Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has resolved to rename a street in the city after Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of his Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) visit as the guest of honour.
According to the recent Council minutes, the Town Clerk, Christopher Dube received a letter from the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo requesting that they rename one of the streets after Kenyatta in terms of the Names Alteration Act Chapter 10:14.
The three roads that have been identified for this purpose are Hillside Road (14th Avenue to Cecil Avenue), Banff Road (Cecil Avenue to Hillside Dams), and King George Avenue (Harare Road to Esigodini Road).
In the ensuing discussion, Councillor Felix Mhaka noted with concern that all the three roads provided as options had been selected from the eastern side of the city.
“He was of the view that roads in the western side of the city had to be considered as options as well. Alternatively, instead of offering three roads to the Central Government as options, he recommended that Banff Road was a busy road which would be best suitable to be renamed in honour of the Kenyan President,” read the minutes.
In addition, Councillor Silas Chigora whilst acknowledging that this was a Central Government initiative that Council has to consider, said this could set a wrong precedent that every President who officiated at ZITF would have a street named in their honour.
“This was a matter of concern that had to be addressed before it became a tradition. He further suggested that 23rd Avenue be considered as an option as it was just a number that had no significant meaning to the City’s history and was closer to the ZITF grounds,” said the Council report.
Councillor Shadreck Sibanda raised concern over the proposed recommendation.
“He felt that renaming streets such as King George Avenue and Cecil Avenue were an act of erasing the city’s history. He recommended that roads such as Ntemba, Mqamulazwe, and Nketa be considered as options as they had no sentimental meaning towards the existence of the city,” read the minutes.
He said it was imperative for policymakers to consider the history of the city in decision-making.
However, Councillor Tawanda Ruzive said President Uhuru Kenyatta was relevant to Zimbabwe’s history with regard to Pan Africanism.
The Deputy Mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube said the three available options were best suitable for being renamed in honour of the Kenyan President as they were closer to the ZITF grounds.
“It would be pointless to select a road that was not within the vicinity of the ZITF grounds,” he said.
In response to the sentiments raised by Councillors, the Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni said in the event that the central government made it a tradition to rename a street after every President who officiated the ZITF the matter would be addressed accordingly.
He further advised that the background of the streets naming initiative embraced preserving colonial history-making reference to Lobengula Street that has been corrected to King Lobengula Street.