By Lloyd Takawira
Zimbabwean daily tabloids, online publications as well as television and radio stations were awash with news that the cabinet have approved the renaming of major roads throughout the country as an honor to “Luminaries” a few days ago.
There has been a lot of concern from various sections of the society with some questioning the logic behind this move, the expenses to be enquired with some even asking either is it in the prerogative of the government or local authorities to do this.
One commentary from my fellow brother and academic Eric Muzimando, questioned the logic behind having a whole cabinet discussing about naming a road was also an eye opener.
“While DE colonializing our roads and buildings is a noble idea, of note is that the whites did not just come here and started naming roads after themselves.
“The whites build roads and infrastructure and named them after themselves which is what we expected from those who bagged nine out of ten”, said one commentator.
One of the interesting talk points from this indication is that we are entrenching a strongman narrative to the political and governance culture.
“A whole cabinet to seat and discuss changing a street name or building is a very lowly rating for people who are failing to grapple with the economic and political doldrums bedeviling this country,” questioned one Munyaradzi Majoni.
One of the most interesting talk point is Emerson Mnangagwa road, formerly enterprise road. One would want to ask why of all the said luminaries, the persona of President Mnangagwa topped the debate.
It is a confirmation of the political polarization that has gripped the nation.
However, the brickbats and vilification confirms that the government of today need to dialogue with the people.
While many can critique the move by government from a face value the move is purely a signal that the government can make decisions without any consultations.
While the urban councils act spells concisely that councils by virtue of law are empowered to name and rename roads, the move to bypass councils most of them MDC run is an indicator that they have no power .
The government has been grappling with dissent. The renaming of roads especially after President Mnangagwa whose rating in Urban areas is low is a ploy signaling of cementing power.
The question of who is a luminary and who is not is one of the most frequently asked questions. People like Dumiso Dabengwa , Morgan Tsvangirai , Rugare Gumbo , Ndabaningi Sithole , Dydmus Mutasa can also be said to be luminaries considering the contribution they have made for the country .