Street Name changes leave Harare City Council scrambling for answers

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Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba

HARARE City Council say they are weighing the option of blocking Cabinet’s decision to rename streets, institutions and places.

Cabinet on Thursday approved new street names as part of what government officials say are efforts to define the country’s identity, culture and history.

Some councilors say according to the Urban Councils Act renaming streets or numbering structures is the local authority’s prerogative.

However, HCC Mayor Herbert Gomba said the council will tread carefully before taking a position.

“I have asked our lawyers to look at that (urban councils) act and that document and (sic) I will give a statement,” Gomba said

Gomba was referring to a document crafted by Ignatius Chombo during his tenure as the Local Government minister.

The document was in response to HCC’s request to recognise “the invaluable contribution by some of the nation’s prominent citizens” through naming streets, institutions and places after them.

In response, Chombo wrote “it is instructive for all local authorities to note that matters pertinent to such changes are appropriately handled via a designated Cabinet Committee on change of Place Names which is chaired by Vice President Hon, J L Nkomo.”

“…Thus the local authorities are directed to channel their recommendations through the provincial administrators to the minister of Local Government for consideration by the said committee before approval by Cabinet,” he added.

Speaking to Zim Morning Post, constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said Cabinet acted within the confines of the law when they approved the name changes of streets, institutions and buildings.

“The law is very clear on the alteration of street names, places and institutions and those who are raising objection are only doing so to sow seeds of doubt within the general citizenry,” he said.

“There is what is also called the NAMES (ALTERATION) ACT, Chapter 10:14, which overrides the urban councils act and provides for the alteration and correction of the names of certain local authorities, institutions and statutory bodies, places, areas within Zimbabwe. It’s an act that was used to change the name the city from Salisbury to Harare. It’s a clear position,” he added. Zim morning post

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