MIAMI — Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, has unilaterally renamed the country’s main airport, Harare International Airport (HRE), after him.
The airport is now called “Robert Mugabe International Airport” after a ceremony where the president opened gold curtains to unveil the covered plaque that commemorates the “honor.”
“May I on behalf of government, the people of Zimbabwe and my own behalf, thank most sincerely the ministry of transport for the honor bestowed in me by renaming the Harare International Airport to Robert Mugabe International Airport,” the 93-year-old president said.
Zimbabwe’s president also said he will invest US$ 153 million to upgrade the airport, expecting to receive 6.5 million passengers a year—the double of its current capacity.
State-owned Herald newspaper reported that China Export and Import Bank will provide the loan for the project.
This week Zimbabwe’s Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo, stated that “all world aviation partners have already been informed of the change of name” during an interview in state television, justifying the decision saying Mugabe was a “war hero” and “African icon.”
Nevertheless, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an opposition organism, pronounced a statement against Mugabe’s actions. “We condemn that [airport’s renaiming] and the capture of the state by the Mugabe government.”
They also remarked many personalities should receive the recognition before Zimbabwe’s president. “As if he’s the only person worthy of recognition,” MDC conclude.
Also, the MDC said they will change the name of the airport when they “come to power” the next presidential elections in 2018.
Naming Zimbabwe’s main locations after Mugabe is common. The African country already has streets in major towns and cities named after him.
There is also a billion-dollar project running to build Robert Gabriel Mugabe University in the north of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. There’s also another plan to rename a giant a concrete-face rock-fill dam on the Tokwe River, the Tokwe Mukosi in Masvingo, after the president.
Mugabe is the only leader that Zimbabwe has known since its independence from Britain in 1980.