HARARE International Airport is set to be renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport at a colourful event to be held on site starting this morning. The renaming is in recognition of President Mugabe’s liberation and black empowerment efforts which have seen Zimbabwe becoming arguably the first African country post-independence to win back its land through a sustained land reform programme that saw the allocation of agricultural plots to thousands of landless blacks who had suffered through colonial deprivation.
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REPORTER: Simiso Mlevu, PHOTOGRAPHER: Wilson Kakurira; PICTURE EDITOR: Joseph Murisi; ONLINE EDITOR: Happiness Chikwanha.
11:00 – Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo confirmed that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had recently approved the renaming process since it is a requirement as all international airports have codes which have to be globally updated. After the renaming, the airport will have its code updated under the new name internationally.
11:17 - Multitudes are already gathered at the airport for the official name change ceremony. Also here are senior government officials, service chiefs, ministers and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
11:18 - President Mugabe and the First Lady Dr Amai Grace Mugabe have arrived. And the plaque bearing the new name has just been unveiled.
11:23 - Music legend, Oliver Mtukudzi has been entertaining the crowd with his golden oldies.
11:24 – Minister of Transport Dr Joram Gumbo is now addressing the gathering. He says the name change is part of the implementation of the Victoria Falls 2015 Zanu PF conference resolutions.
11:25 - To match the stature of the man His Excellency is, Dr Gumbo says the ministry will undertake some renovations of the airport. Also, the Ministry is embarking on an aviation development plan and Dr Gumbo says he shall be sharing the plan with other colleagues in Government.
11:26 - Dr Gumbo has invited Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko to introduce the Guest of Honour, Hies Excellency President Mugabe.
11:27 - Vice President Mphoko has invited His Excellency to address the gathering.
11:28 - President Mugabe begins by making salutations and he recognises the presence of various dignitaries.
“May I on behalf of Government, the people of Zimbabwe and my own behalf, thank most sincerely the Ministry of Transport for the honour bestowed in me by renaming the Harare International Airport to Robert Mugabe International Airport.
“My government recognizes that air transport is pivotal to economic growth. While transport in general facilitates the movement of goods and people in general, air transport promotes tourism and investment. It promotes international trade.
11:31 – His Excellency concludes by thanking the Ministry of Transport for the gesture adding that he is certain even the First Family appreciates as well.
President Mugabe says his family is not just his wife and kids, but the whole nation is part of it adding that he is certain they also share the same joy.
11:33 – President Mugabe has finished giving his acceptance speech.
11:34 - Police band takes to the stage to entertain the crowd here before vote of thanks is given.
11:35 - The police band belts a rendition of ‘Jesu Makanaka’
11:38 - The renaming of the airport to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport presents a new era which marks the transformation of the airport into world class.
11:39 – Minister of Local Government, Hon Saviour Kasukuwere now rises to give vote of thanks.
11:40 - ”As the party and government, we are proud to have renamed this airport in your (President Mugabe) honour,” says Cde Kasukuwere. He says the airport is a historic landmark with its conical tower which tells visitors that one has arrived in Zimbabwe.
11:42 – Cde Kasukuwere thanks Dr Gumbo and the Ministry of Transport officials for making the resolution a reality.
11:48 - He concludes his vote of thanks by thanking thousands of Zimbabweans who came to bear witness to this historic name change.
11:49 – President Mugabe has been presented with a present, a conical tower inscribed with the name Robert Mugabe International Airport.
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