Zimbabwe has renamed its main airport after the country’s 93-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for 37 years.
In a one-sentence announcement Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe announced Harare International Airport was being renamed R. G. Mugabe International Airport.
R.G. are initials for Mugabe’s other names — Robert Gabriel.
African Independent reported the bankrupt government has allocated $53 million to refurbish the airport’s terminal, which was built 12 years ago by companies linked to Mugabe’s nephew Leo in a state-financed project. A source said it doesn’t allow adequate levels of sunlight.
Harare International Airport,which is in the nation’s capital, has Africa’s longest runway at 15,502 feet.
“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,” Transport Minister Jorum Gumbo said.
In August, the government announced it was planning to construct a university worth $1 billion and it will be named after Mugabe. Also named after the leader are the government’s school of intelligence, a main street in the capital Harare and the highway to his rural home.
Also, Feb. 21, Mugabe’s birthday, was been declared a national holiday earlier this year.
Mugabe, who became Zimbabwe’s leader when it gained independence from Britain in 1980, plans to run in the 2018.
Opposition parties, which are against the renamings, accuse him of destroying the economy and plunging the country into untold poverty.
“Robert Mugabe is not Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is not Robert Mugabe. This weir and bootlicking concept of reducing Zimbabwe into a personal fiefdom of Robert Mugabe and his family must be condemned in the strongest of terms,” says the mainstream opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
By Allen Cone