A ceremony was held on Thursday morning to officially renamed Zimbabwe’s main airport in the capital Harare after its president.
The Harare International Airport – one of the biggest in the country, is now known as the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The event which saw the 93-year-old president unveil a plaque that said the renaming of the facility was to ‘honour’ him. Apparently, the terminal building was inaugurated by Mugabe in April 2001.
“It’s Official !!! Harare International Airport has been renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in honor of one of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers H.E Cde RG Mugabe,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a tweet.
Decision to rename the facility
A statement issued in early September by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe read: “Aeronautical Information Regulation and Control (AIRAC): With effect from 9 November 2017 Harare International Airport will be renamed R. G. Mugabe International Airport.”
R. G. are the initials for Robert Gabriel – Mugabe’s other names. People at the time reacted to the move given that a number national asset were in named after Mugabe – who is leader of the ruling Zanu-PF and its flagbearer going into polls slated for 2018.
The airport was commissioned in 1956 and opened a year later. It is the country’s largest airport and serves as the base of the embattled national carrier, Air Zimbabwe. It is under the transport ministry but run by Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe university plans and public furore
The government disclosed in August 2017 that Zimbabwe was planning to construct a university worth 1 billion US dollars and that the facility will be named after Mugabe.
The decision sparked anger and criticism from the opposition which says the government should instead focus on improving the existing underfunded universities around the country.
Despite questions about how the authorities will raise funds for the university in the light of current economic crisis, the government has said when ready, it would focus on science and technology and have an institute focusing on research and “transformative and revolutionary leadership.”
The Robert Mugabe University joins other facilities named after Mugabe including the government’s school of intelligence, a main street in the capital Harare and the highway to his rural home.
It will be situated 36 kilometres North West of Harare in Mazowe district, Mashonaland Central with the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Foundation as the responsible authority.