Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
The Harare International Airport was yesterday renamed Robert Mugabe International Airport at a ceremony attended by thousands of people, senior Government officials and captains of industry. The airport was renamed by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development following recommendations made at the 2015 Zanu-PF Annual People’s Conference to rename the country’s busiest and largest airport in the President’s honour.
In his address to the gathering President Mugabe thanked the nation for honouring him. “On behalf of Government and the people of Zimbabwe and on my own behalf I want to thank most sincerely the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development for the honour bestowed on me by renaming the Harare International Airport the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport,” he said.
President Mugabe added that Government recognised the importance of air transport to the country’s economic growth. “It is indeed a great honour for me and I am humbled by this gesture. My Government recognises that air transport is pivotal to the economic growth of our country and we have been debating this issue of economic growth, the issue of development, the issue encompassing all our people and try to improve their condition.
“While transport in general accelerates the movement of people and goods in a cost-effective way, air transport facilitates and promotes national and regional trade, tourism, investment and integration,” President Mugabe said. He commended the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development for completing various projects that included the upgrading of Victoria Falls International Airport, which can now handle 1,5 million passengers annually from 500 000.
“This development signifies exciting times ahead especially for our aviation and tourism sectors and the country at large. Visitors and tourists from Europe, Asia among others now fly directly into the country to experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the mighty Mosi oa Tunya, the Victoria Falls. We therefore would like to commend the ministry for coming up with various initiatives and projects that meaningfully and immensely contribute to our country’s economic development,” President Mugabe said.
He added that Government was committed to assisting the ministry in accessing funding for various projects to grow the transport sector including expansion of various airports across the country. President Mugabe said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development had various exciting projects lined up.
“I want you to keep your appetite up and expect surprises that will come our way. Madyira panze vaJoram (Gumbo; Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development) hava dyire mumba, I Gumbo kwete rimwe chete, kwete maviri anotenge matatu kana mana,” he said drawing laughter from the crowd. He reiterated his gratitude on behalf of himself, his family and the entire country on the honour bestowed on him saying it had brought joy to all Zimbabweans.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was built in 1956 and was commissioned in 1957 mainly to serve colonialists. It was renamed Harare International Airport from Salisbury International Airport at independence.