Jokes on social media are now circulating that almost everything in Zimbabwe is going to be named after the iconic and controversial Robert Mugabe following the pronouncements that the country's main airport Harare International Airport is to be renamed in honour of Robert Mugabe.
The name change will come into effect on 9 November 2017. A Notice to Airmen, also known as Notam, was recently issued informing pilots and operators worldwide that Harare International Airport will be referred to as Robert Mugabe International Airport effective from 9 November 2017. Notam is a written notification issued to pilots advising them of circumstances relating to the state of flying.
The ruling party's secretary for Youth Kudzanai Chipanga initially made the calls for the airport to be renamed at the beginning of this year, and it now seems at last they have heard these calls, that are said to be originating from the youth's. at least according to Chipanga. Chipanga, a highly ambitious youth leader, threatened not to invite senior members of the party to the 21st celebrations (Robert Mugabe's birthday) next year if the airport was not renamed in the name of Mugabe.
Chipanga remarked, "I am repeating what I said in Plumtree some weeks ago, that senior members of the party and ministers will not be allowed to attend the 21st February Movement celebrations next year if the Harare International Airport is not going to be named after Mugabe before the celebrations. The youths demand renaming of the airport and this must be done as a matter of urgency."
The development has been purported to be a move aimed at perpetuating the Mugabe legacy in Zimbabwe, and now the airport joins many other institutions named after Robert Mugabe. The national airlines, Air Zimbabwe, has been a struggling entity that has continued to encounter a myriad of unending problems, with Simba Chikore, who also happens to be Mugabe's son-in-law being at the helm of the national airlines.
As the usual narrative goes, government officials were quick to praise the development and scoff claims that the move is a bad one. The Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo, said that nothing was amiss by naming the airport after Robert Mugabe. “If you see his contribution to the liberation struggle, education and empowerment of the people of Zimbabwe and Africa, you will see that he has a rich legacy that has to be preserved and his history should not be erased even as people visit our country,” Gumbo said. Government will gazette the changes to officially give effect to the airport’s new name.
In August, Robert Mugabe's holiday was declared a public holiday. There have been plans set to build the billion-dollar Robert Mugabe University. Many Zimbabweans now have a joke, "Robert Mugabe will be touching down at Robert Mugabe Airport, will move in Robert Mugabe Street and send his children to Robert Mugabe University."