BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is racing against time to consult residents on a government request to name one of its streets after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) at the end of the month. Kenyatta is expected to be the guest of honour at the premium exhibition.
Local Government minister July Moyo made the request to council in a letter dated March 16.
With three weeks to go before the ZITF, the request has put the city fathers in a fix as they have to comply with a court order directing them that they could only do so after consulting with residents.
The court order came after a successful application by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in 2020 challenging the change of street names.
According to minutes of the latest full council meeting, BCC mayor Solomon Mguni said they needed to comply with the law and consult stakeholders before Kenyatta’s arrival.
But councillor Silas Chigora shot down the decision to honour Kenyatta.
“While acknowledging that this was a central government initiative that the council had to consider, Chigora raised concern over acceding to the request.
“He was of the view that this could set a wrong precedent that every president who officiated at ZITF would have a street named in their honour. He said 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,” the council report noted.
Another councillor, Shadreck Sibanda concurred with Chigora saying the renaming exercise was an act of erasing the city’s history.
“Roads such as Ntemba, Mqamulazwe and Nketa were considered as options as they had no sentimental meaning towards the existence of the city. It was imperative for policy makers to consider the history of the city in decision making.”
After the debate, a recommendation was, however, made to have one of the three streets named after Kenyatta.
The three roads include Hillside Road from Samuel Parirenyatwa to Cecil Avenue, 12th Avenue Extension from Samuel Parirenyatwa to Cecil Avenue and Banff Road towards Hillside Dams.
It was also recommended that 12th Avenue Extension, from Samuel Parirenyatwa Street to Cecil, be named after President Emmerson Mnangagwa.