Zimbabwe renames Harare airport to honour Mugabe

Zimbabwe has renamed its airport in Harare Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport, in honour of its 93-year-old leader.

The authorities also announced an upgrade at a cost of $153 million in an effort to attract more visitors.

The upgrade which will be financed by China will enable the airport handle 6.5 million passengers a year, more than double its current capacity.

State-owned Herald newspaper reported that China Export and Import Bank will provide the $153 million loan that will, among other things, be used to expand the runway to allow multiple planes to land at the same time.

Accepting the honour on Thursday, Mugabe said renaming the airport was “a great gesture” to him and his family.

In the last few months, Mugabe’s vocal ruling ZANU-PF youth wing has been pushing the government to honor Mugabe by giving public institutions his name.

The government has said from next year the veteran ruler’s Feb. 21 birthday will be known as Robert Mugabe National Youth Day, a public holiday.

On August 9, the cash-strapped government announced plans to build a $1 billion university named after Mugabe, a move that was criticized by the opposition as a waste of resources.

Mugabe is the only leader that Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in 1980 and despite his advanced age, he remains the most influential political figure in the country.

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