Minister responds to Bulawayo street names lawsuit
By Mashudu Netsianda
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo has filed papers in response to an application by Bulawayo residents who are challenging Government’s decision to rename some of the city’s street names as contained in Statutory Instrument 167/20.
In terms of SI 167/20, Minister Moyo announced a number of street name changes in the country’s major cities, a development that saw a number of the nation’s heroes both living and dead being honoured.
However, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) through their lawyers Job Sibanda and Associates, approached the High Court in Bulawayo challenging Minister Moyo’s approval of street name changes as contained in S1 167/20 under Names (Alterations) (Amendment of Schedule) Notice. They cited Minister Moyo and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) as respondents.
The SI, in its preamble, states that in exercising his powers under section 4(1) of the Alteration of Names Act (Chapter10:14) (hereinafter called “the enabling Act”) Minister Moyo issued a notice altering the names of certain street names by amending Part VII of the Act by the repeal of certain names of roads and substituting them with those in the amended schedule.
The residents want the court to declare SI 167/20 and the resultant renaming of the streets in Bulawayo, a nullity, arguing it was in violation of some provisions of the Urban Councils Act. Minister Moyo, through the Civil Division in the Attorney General’s Office, filed a notice of opposition at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the application.
In his opposing affidavit, Minister Moyo argued that proper procedures and consultations were done before the implementation of renaming of streets as per Cabinet directive.
“The Cabinet at its 41th meeting discussed the issue of change of streets names within various local authorities countrywide. Section 4(2) of the Names Alteration Act provided that the Minister shall not alter the name of any public building, road or street except after consultation with the person in whom the ownership or control of the building, road or street is vested,” he said.
Minister Moyo said his ministry, in a letter dated January 14, 2020, wrote to all local authorities affected with the proposed name changes consulting on the changes and requested their submissions.
“On March 9, 2020, my ministry responded to the second respondent (BCC)’s submissions and highlighted that their comments would be presented to Cabinet committee on name change of streets, which is chaired by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi. The second respondent was further advised that the implementation as per the Cabinet directive would be done hence the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 167/20,” he said.
“It is therefore not correct to allege that the procedures of the enabling Act were not followed. The necessary consultations were done with the council. Wherefore, I pray that the application be dismissed with costs.”
BPRA said some of the proposed name changes related to the streets that have been altered in terms of SI 167/20 despite council having made its own name proposals.
BPRA executive chairperson, Mr Ambrose Sibindi said Minister Moyo ignored the council proposals and came up with a list of names different from what was forwarded to him by BCC.
“BCC, not too long ago, and exercising its prerogative in terms of section 212 of the Urban Councils Act, brought the matter up for debate in council following proper consideration of the issue by the relevant committee to rename the streets. The names were forwarded to Government but they have been altered in terms of SI 167/20,” he said.
Mr Sibindi said the Minister’s actions by issuing the notice altering the names of the identified streets in Bulawayo is an illegality which the court should nullify.
“The first respondent (Minister Moyo)’s attempt to alter the names of the concerned streets runs afoul the very law that allows him to alter such names,” he said.
He argued that Minister Moyo did not consider the provisions of section 4 (2) of the enabling Act before coming up with a raft of names imposed on BCC and the residents of Bulawayo.
Mr Sibindi said section 4(2) of the enabling Act, prohibits Minister Moyo from altering any names in terms of subsection (1) unless he has consulted the owner of the land where the alteration is to take place.
BPRA wants the court to set aside S1 167/20, arguing that it is in violation of section 4(2) of the Alteration of Names Act.
In terms of SI 167/20, Sixth Avenue Extension has been renamed Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa Way in honour of the President.
Other major roads that have been renamed include; 12th Avenue, which is now Joseph Msika Avenue, Collenbrander Avenue is now Lookout Masuku Avenue, 9th Avenue is Simon Vengai Muzenda Avenue and 4th Avenue through to 7th Street up to King George is Landa John Nkomo Road.
Connaught Avenue is now Cephas Cele Avenue, 5th Avenue has been renamed Maria Msika Avenue, 10th Avenue is now Nikita Mangena Avenue and 3rd Avenue is now Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu Avenue.
Fife Street through to Bellevue Road up to Plumtree Road is now Benjamin Burombo Street, 23rd Avenue is Jairos Jiri Avenue and Victoria Falls Road has been renamed Mosi-Oa-Tunya Road and 11th Avenue is now Daniel Madzimbamuto Avenue.
Cecil Avenue continuing up to Wellington Road is now Albert Nxele Road, Fife Street and Queens Road is now Queen Lozikeyi Street and 1st Avenue is now Lazarus Nkala Avenue.
Other roads renamed are Doncaster Road which is now Sikanjaya Muntanga Road and 13th Avenue to include Antony Taylor Avenue is now George Nyandoro Avenue. The Chronicle