BULAWAYO – A High Court judge on Thursday blocked controversial efforts by the government to rename streets in Bulawayo including one after President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) sued local government minister July Moyo and the city council last year after government gazetted a measure directing all major cities and towns to rename streets in honour of shortlisted past and present national heroes.

Through Statutory Instrument 167 of 2020, Moyo had ordered municipalities in Bulawayo, Harare, Chipinge, Gweru, Masvingo, Bindura, Chegutu, Kwekwe, Mutare to have a road named after Mnangagwa, and several other suggested liberation personalities.

In Bulawayo, 6th Avenue was the one earmarked for Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Way.

But Justice Max Takuva denied the president that honour after agreeing with the residents’ association that it was unlawful for Moyo and the government to impose street names on the local authority without consultations.

“To the extent that Statutory Instrument 167/20 purports to alter and substitute certain names as depicted therein, in Bulawayo the same is null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever for violating Section 4 (2) of the Alteration of Names Act Chapter 10:14,” Takuva ruled.

BPRA lawyer Job Sibanda applauded the verdict, but admitted government could still appeal.

He added: “Justice Takuva granted the order setting aside that Statutory Instrument pertaining to Bulawayo. The relief only applies to the renaming of streets in Bulawayo.”

Minister Moyo was ordered to pay costs.

Under the rejected directive, government had also changed 9th Avenue to Simon Muzenda Avenue, 8th Avenue to Liberation Legacy Avenue, while 12th Avenue was to become Joseph Msika Avenue.

4th Avenue had been altered to John Landa Avenue, 5th Avenue to Maria Msika Avenue, 1st Avenue to Lazarus Nkala Avenue, 10th Avenue would be known as Nikita Mangena Avenue, 3rd Avenue as Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu Avenue while 11th Avenue would be Daniel Madzimbamuto Avenue.

The controversial measure to rename streets after Mnangagwa was met with revulsion by critics who saw it as a desperate gambit by Zanu PF to force the legacy of an unpopular leader who stands accused of some of the worst human rights violations in Zimbabwe yet.