…city forced into unbudgeted
for renaming exercise
City of Masvingo’s quest to
rename Hofmeyer Street after Morgan Tsvangirai has failed after the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ignored the recommendation
and gave the street to Simon Muzenda instead.
On July 31, council employees
began pulling down street signage bearing the names of the British pioneers who
settled the land on modern day Masvingo; Hughes, Hofmeyer and Hellet, and
replaced them with Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, Simon Muzenda and Shuvai Mahofa
This was in compliance with a
mid-July directive from the Minister of Local Governance, Public Works and
National Housing, July Moyo to rename some of the streets in the city in honour
of Zanu PF heroes.
The minister renamed over 80
roads in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Bindura, Chegutu
and Chipinge which all now have a road named after President Emmerson
Prior to that, Masvingo – which
has majority MDC Alliance councillors – had drawn up its own list and had
intended to rename Hofmeyer, Hellet and Greenfield after Tsvangirai, Mahofa and
Eddison Zvobgo but this was ignored.
When asked by TellZim News why
they had not stuck to their guns in terms of street naming and renaming
influence vested in local authorities by the Urban Councils Act, Masvingo Mayor
Collen Maboke said the issue had been politicised.
“There is serious politics
involved in the whole thing. We had made our recommendations as council but the
minister has had his own way. The Urban Councils Act requires the ministry to
consult with council for any renaming exercise but ‘consult’ may mean anything.
They simply made token consultations and had their way. It was all about
politics,” said Maboke.
When asked if the exercise of
removing old signage and erection of new signage had been budgeted for, Maboke
said it was not.
“We woke up to see council
management putting up new signs but the 2020 budget given to us as councillors
did not contain those expenses. It’s unfortunate that I can’t sustain a row
with the minister because effectively, he is like my boss. It would be bad for
council if we pick up fights with higher authorities at every turn,” said
City of Masvingo acting town
clerk Edward Mukaratirwa, however, disputed Maboke’s claims, saying everything
had been budgeted for.
“Yes, it is contained in the
budget. The law requires standardised signage that is recognisable even from
outside the country.
“It is true we as a city had made
our own proposals with the regards to the renaming exercise but then the
minister gazetted other names through a Statutory Instrument which then became
law to us. That is why we have begun the process of changing the signage,” said
It is not clear, however, how the
project could have been budgeted for when the minister’s directives only became
known last month after the gazetting of the new names.
Masvingo United Residents and
Ratepayers Alliance (Murra) information officer Godfrey Mtimba said reports
that the matter was not budgeted for was alarming.
“We note the renaming exercise
and take exception to the fact that the project was not budgeted for. We are
looking at our options so that we can effectively demand accountability and
transparency because we believe resources were diverted from key service delivery
areas,” said Mtimba.