By Sibusiso Ncube
Opposition party ZAPU has castigated Cabinet for renaming a street in Bulawayo after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, adding that the move is not only unconstitutional but also a celebration of the unfortunate Gukurahundi genocide.
President Mnangagwa is accused of having played a key role in the genocide that is alleged to have claimed lives of about 20 000 people in Matabeleland and has also refused to publicly apologise.
The government last week announced the renaming of various streets in the country, with President Mnangagwa getting at least 10 streets across the country named after him.
In Bulawayo, the street formerly known as 6th Avenue has been renamed Emerson Mnangagwa Avenue.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said Mnangagwa does not deserve a name in Bulawayo and Matabeleland adding that his history is that of Gukurahundi.
“Besides that, it is one of the many diversionary tactics by the ever failing Zanu PF government, and also besides that it is unconstitutional, this is Mnangagwa’s rush to claim space in the country’s history books. He has named 10 streets after himself in one day, never heard of.
“About renaming Bulawayo’s 6th Ave after Mnangagwa, it is like renaming a street in Israel after Adolf Hitler. Mnangagwa’s legacy in Bulawayo and Matabeleland is that of Gukurahundi, in which tens of thousands of people were killed, pregnant mothers were ripped open with foetus dropping to the ground; women and children were killed, raped and maimed. The elderly and sick died of starvation and diseases owing to the stringent curfew that was imposed on the region. In all this, Mnangagwa is mostly remembered for his numerous inciting speeches especially ones at Nkayi and Lupane
“He was also responsible for state security which made him the point man of the genocide. Today they rename a street in the region after him and to us its nothing but a celebration of that genocide on the people of the same region,” he said.
Part of the other 19 roads that have been renamed in Bulawayo are include 9th Avenue (Simon Vengesayi Muzenda), 4th Avenue (John Landa Nkomo), 12th Avenue (Joseph Msika), 5th Avenue (Maria Msika), 10th Avenue (Nikita Mangena), Fife Street (Queen Lozikeyi) and Collenbrander (Lookout Masuku).
While renaming streets to honour those who took part in the country’s liberation struggle and those who helped is a step in the right direction, but it is the snubbing of well-known liberators as the late Dumiso Dabengwa especially in Bulawayo which raises questions about the move.
Dabengwa was a strong critic of both the later former President Robert Mugabe and current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and also refused to be buried at the Heroes Acre preferring his rural home instead.