Africa

Zimbabwe renames Harare airport after Robert Mugabe

Robert and Grace Mugabe Image copyright AFP
Image caption Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace unveiled the plaque with his name at the airport

Harare International Airport has been renamed after Zimbabwe's current President, Robert Mugabe.

Transport Minister Joram Gumbo justified the decision on the grounds that Mr Mugabe was a "war hero" and "African icon".

There is tension about who will succeed the man in power since 1980, with a number of key contenders removed from their posts.

Mr Mugabe, 93, says he will stand for re-election next year.

His wife Grace has been tipped to succeed him and is expected to be appointed vice-president.

When plans to rename the airport were announced in September, Zimbabwean journalist Elias Mambo suggested the president's ego was being "massaged".

President Mugabe and his wife unveiled the new plaque bearing his name in a short simple ceremony.

The name change is just one of a series of events planned by the government to pay tribute the man who led the country to independence.

In August, the government announced plans to build a $1bn university named after him.

But the BBC's Shingai Nyoka in Harare says Zimbabweans are divided over the name change at the airport, and the opposition has described it as an insult.

President Mugabe thanked the government on behalf of his family, which he said "is not just my wife and the children it is the whole country".


Robert Mugabe: Why is he so controversial?

Image copyright EPA
  • Led 1970s fight against white-minority rule in Rhodesia
  • Been in power since 1980 - independence of country renamed Zimbabwe
  • Began policy of seizing white-owned farms in 2000
  • Critics blame land redistribution policy for subsequent economic collapse
  • Many Africans still see Mugabe as revolutionary hero
  • Mugabe criticised Nelson Mandela, saying in South Africa "everything is in the whites' hands"
  • Africa's oldest head of state

Our correspondent says that Zimbabwe was once southern Africa's aviation hub.

Critics say because of Mr Mugabe's economic policies, the once vibrant airport is now a shadow of its former self.

More on this story