GOVERNMENT has revealed plans to challenge last week’s High Court ruling barring the Local Government ministry from renaming Bulawayo streets after President Emmerson Mnangagwa, among other heroes.
High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva on Thursday ruled in favour of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) after it approached the courts in July 2020 seeking an interdict barring the ministry from renaming streets.
A number of streets in Bulawayo, Harare, Kwekwe, Mutare, Chipinge, Bindura, Cheguru and Gweru were supposed to be renamed after Mnangagwa and other personalities under Statutory Instrument 167 of 2020 issued by Local Government minister July Moyo.
BPRA, however, challenged the legality of the SI, arguing that Moyo had no authority to rename streets without consulting residents and other stakeholders as enshrined in the Names (Alteration) Act and Urban Councils Act.
In an interview, Moyo said the ministry planned to challenge the High Court ruling, insisting that government was mandated by law to rename streets.
“There is an Act of Parliament which allows government to change (names) and when we did that, we wrote to the city council and consulted all the city councils and municipalities. So all the processes have been done but we are going to challenge,” he said.
In Bulawayo, 6th Avenue, and 6th Avenue Extension were to be renamed Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Way, according to SI 167 of 2020.
In a High Court application, the BPRA objected to the renaming of city streets after Mnangagwa describing the move as unnatural and illegal.
“The first respondent’s actions in passing the SI 167 of 2020 at least as far as Bulawayo road are concerned runs counter to the clear provisions of the enabling Act. Viewed through an impartial eye, such actions are, I submit, gross, (an) eye-sore, unnatural even and illegal. They go against the grain of what is accepted in a normal society,” BPRA chairperson Ambrose Sibindi argued in his founding affidavit.
The Local Government minister and Bulawayo City Council were cited as the first and second respondents, respectively.
“The alteration of names of streets and buildings in any place is a very sensitive and personal affair which the Enabling Act (Alteration of Names Act) was alive to by making it a condition precedent for consultations to take place with the owner of the land before it was done,” Sibindi argued.
The late former President Robert Mugabe had streets named after him.
In November 2017, some Zimbabweans were quick to remove and destroy some Mugabe street name posts following his ouster in a coup that catapulted Mnangagwa to power.