via ‘Political parties cannot name roads’ – DailyNews Live 6 DECEMBER 2014 by MUGOVE TAFIRENYIKA
HARARE – Movement for Democratic Change, MDC says it is not the responsibility of political parties to name roads on land owned by local authorities.
Zanu PF unilaterally renamed the open space adjacent to the Rainbow Towers Hotel, “Robert Mugabe Square” ahead of their ongoing congress which kicked off this week.
And on Thursday, Simon Khaya Moyo, the party’s national chairman announced at the congress that they had also renamed the main road leading into “Robert Mugabe Square”, “Dr Grace Mugabe Way” while the another road was named “ZimAsset Walk.”
Obert Gutu, the party spokesperson told the Daily News yesterday that Zanu PF had violated not only the country’s constitution but also the Urban Councils Act which places the responsibility of running the affairs of Harare on the council.
“We are not at all surprised by that because it is typical of how Zanu PF runs this country, like private property with total disregard of the laws of the land,” said Gutu.
In terms of the Urban Councils Act section 212 (1), the naming of roads and streets within council areas is the prerogative of the local authority.
“The council may from time to time assign names to roads within the council area and cause the name of any road to be affixed to or painted on any house, building or other structure fronting upon any part of such road.”
“No person shall, without the permission of the council – (a) destroy, remove or deface any name affixed or painted by the council in terms of subsection (1); or (b) destroy, remove or deface any number marked or affixed by a person in terms of a direction given under subsection (2) or by the council in terms of that subsection; or (c) fail to keep marked or affixed the number specified in the notice given under subsection (2),” reads part of the Act.
While the MDC’s reaction to the names seems to be premised on the legality of such action, observers feel the opposition is being hypocritical given that the Robert Mugabe Square is the same place where their leader Morgan Tsvangirai held his largest pre-election rally in July last year and christened the open space “Freedom Square”.
Zanu PF deputy director of information Psychology Maziwisa could not comment on the opposition allegations saying he was busy at congress and that he would be able to respond at the close of business yesterday.
He was however, not picking his phone afterwards.
The Urban Councils Act is supported by the national constitution Section 276 (1) of the national constitution which provides that subject to it and any act of parliament, the local authority has the right to govern on its own the people in the area to which it has been established.
Gutu said Zanu PF should have approached council first and have the matter deliberated on by a full council before they named the streets.
“That is why we have always said this is a rogue regime and the sooner they leave office the better for all Zimbabweans,” Gutu added.
Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said: “We believe the organisers of the congress are law-abiding citizens and as such they would not put up illegal structures.
“We are treating them as having hired that land for their use and that all they have put up are temporary structures including the names of the roads. “
However, Khaya Moyo told Zanu PF supporters that the new names were permanent.
“I wish to inform you all that we have decided to rename this place we used to call the civic grounds, Robert Mugabe Square and the other road Dr Grace Mugabe way while the other is ZimAsset Walk.
“Please take note and acquaint with these important changes,” he said.