The Irony of Harare’s Robert Mugabe Street

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HARARE’S Robert Mugabe Street is one of the major roads which cut across the central business district of the country’s capital.
Several historic buildings are found in this long and busy road, once known as Manica Road before the street name changes that came with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
As the name suggests, the road is christened after the only leader the country has known since attaining independence from Britain in 1980, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who turned 93 this February.
Mugabe, who has already been endorsed as the ruling Zanu PF party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 election, has been blamed both at home and abroad for presiding over the collapse of the economy of a country once described as the bread basket of Africa.
His misrule is blamed for the unprecedented levels of unemployment, with labour unions estimating that more than 95 percent of the population are now in informal employment, the majority of them reduced to vending.
Mugabe is also blamed for the poor service delivery in almost all cities and towns which have become an eyesore due to uncollected garbage, faeces, impassable pavements as a result of vendors and dilapidated buildings.
And Robert Mugabe Road has not been spared either. Ironically, it has raised the annoyance of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, who feel the state of the road, with its hordes of vendors, filth and ugly, dilapidated buildings, is a shame to the country and denigrates the man after whom it is named.
The ZTA has decided that its annual Harare International Carnival, this year should focus on a legacy project for the carnival; and that project would be to transform Robert Mugabe road by giving it a facelift.
“In its current state, the street has become a shame to the country. It is filled with all sorts of dirt emanating from different activities of vending and transport movement rampant during the day and night, activities that also make the road absolutely impassable.
“We cannot continue to cast a blind eye to that as a nation. Robert Mugabe Road is named after our iconic President. We need to show respect and pay homage to the Head of State by creating order and sanity in this road,” ZTA Boss, Karikoga Kaseke told journalists in a statement read on his behalf in Harare last week.Advertisement

He continued; “So, starting this year, every edition of the Carnival must have a sustainable legacy project that will benefit our communities and the economy at large.
“We are going to put proper vending stalls which are also environmentally friendly along Robert Mugabe Road. We want to create a shining model that will also link them with the main stream economy.”
Kaseke said next year ZTA would, in partnership with the Harare City Council, work with their sponsors and take the legacy project to First Street in the capital.