Bulawayo residents sue govt over ‘illegal’ street renaming

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

A RESIDENTS’ representative group has dragged Local Government Minister, July Moyo to court challenging a unilateral government decision to change some of the city’s street names in violation of the Urban Councils Act.

The government last week gazetted the renaming of some streets in major cities and towns with a lot of streets named after President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has taken the initiative to bell the cat, challenging what it contends was a “patently illegal” move by central government.

Through its lawyers, Job Sibanda and Associates, the residents’ group filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging S1167/20 under Names (Alterations) (Amendment of Schedule) Notice.

In his founding affidavit, BPRA executive chairperson Ambrose Sibindi argues the name changes were a nullity since they violated some provisions of the Urban Councils Act.

“The first respondent (Minister Moyo)’s attempt to alter the names of the concerned streets runs afoul the very law that allows to alter such names.

“He did not consider the provisions of section 4 (2) of the enabling Act before coming up with a raft of names that he sought to impose on second respondent and the residents of Bulawayo,” said Sibindi in the application.

Sibindi argued that section 4(2) of the enabling Act prohibited the minister from altering any names in terms of subsection (1) unless the owner of the land where the alteration is to take place has been consulted.

“The alteration of names of streets and buildings in any place is a very sensitive and personal affair which the enabling Act was alive to by making it a condition precedent for consultations to take place with the owner of the land before it is done.

“Viewed through an impartial eye, such actions are, I submit, grossly an eyesore, unnatural and patently illegal,” said Sibindi.

According to the SI 167/20, Sixth Avenue Extension in Bulawayo has been renamed Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

Other major roads that have been renamed include 12th Avenue, which is now Joseph Msika Avenue, and Colenbrander Road is now Lookout Masuku Avenue.

9th Avenue is now Simon Vengai Muzenda Avenue and 4th Avenue through to 7th Street up to King George is now Landa John Nkomo Road.

In February this year, Bulawayo city council renamed some of the city’s major streets and buildings in a move the local authority said was meant to preserve pre-colonial and post-colonial history and heritage of the city.

However, the government dismissed the council’s move claiming that only the minister has the power to change names.