By Hope Sarara
IN what could be a major gaffe by government, a road named after celebrated liberation war commander and post-independence Zimbabwe’s first black military general Solomon Mujuru has been renamed after President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In 2012 the Harare City Council, the custodian of the roads in the capital resolved to rename Enterprise Road after the former Zanla commander who died in a freak fire at his farm in August 2011.
On Thursday Acting Information Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu announced at a post-Cabinet media briefing that the same road had now been renamed after Mnangagwa along with other streets in Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Kwekwe and Chipinge.
Mnangagwa came to power following the November 2017 coup that deposed his mentor of 50 years the late Robert Mugabe.
The new Zanu PF leader then won controversial elections last year. Early this year, Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana announced the search was on for roads to be renamed after the President.
Ndlovu said according to the country’s laws only the President could have a road named after them while they were alive.
Instead Mujuru’s name has now been moved to Kirkman Drive. For years after his retirement, Mujuru was believed to have been the power behind a faction of Zanu PF that also included his widow Joice who went on to upstage Mnangagwa to become the country’s first female Vice President in 2005.
Mnangagwa had at the Zanu PF 2004 congress reportedly amassed support from no less than six provinces before Mugabe forced changes to the ruling party’s constitution and insert a provision indicating one of his deputies had to be a woman effectively pulling the carpet from under the party’s then secretary for administration.
Reports at the time claimed Mnangagwa and Mujuru did not see eye to eye and conspiracy theories claimed the new Zanu PF leader could have been behind the freak fire that killed the celebrated war commander known as “Rex Nhongo.”
Ironically Mnangagwa would in 2014 benefit from Joice Mujuru’s removal as Vice President when he was appointed by Mugabe to take up the position.
At the time Enterprise Road was renamed after Solomon Mujuru, the Harare City Council also announced it had honoured other national luminaries by renaming Rotten Row after the late former Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena and Churchill Road after the late former University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Walter Kamba.
Recent reports have claimed Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru are in talks for a possible audacious return to the ruling party by the former Vice President.