Nkomo supporters ‘rename’ Main Street

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late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo

PEOPLE campaigning for a public holiday in honour of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo yesterday “renamed” Main Street Joshua Nkomo Street, as frustration grows that not enough is being done to honour one of the country’s founding fathers.

NQOBILE BHEBHE

Unknown people yesterday stuck posters on signposts along Main Street purporting that the street had now been named after the late nationalist.

This comes as Nkomo’s only surviving son Sibangilizwe had threatened to unilaterally declare July 1, as Joshua Nkomo and Liberators’ Day.

There is growing frustration that the government is not doing enough to honour the late nationalist, despite promises it would do so.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 14th anniversary celebrations, Nkomo’s daughters, Thandiwe and Louise said July 1 was an important day to them, but there were still “sticking issues” surrounding honouring the late nationalist.

The youngest daughter Louise said they were celebrating the day with a “bit of sadness”.

“It is a day to celebrate his life, but even 14 years after his death there is still a bit of sadness that comes with the day,” she said, without elaborating.

On the proposed statue to be mounted along Main Street, Thandiwe revealed that it could be up soon.

“After the first attempt to erect the statue failed because the family was not consulted, we were involved later,” she said.

“We met with the government committee about 12 times both in Harare and Bulawayo and from what we understand now, the costing of the stature and podium has been done, but few things are missing.”
There were a number of projects to honour the late Vice-President, but most of them have either been stillborn or are yet to be completed.

Some of the projects include naming the airport after him, completing Ekusileni Medical Centre started in his honour and a statue to be constructed on Main Street.

The government briefly erected the statue in Bulawayo, but it was quickly pulled down after a sustained public outcry.

Nkomo died on July 1 1999 and his family, together with Matojeni Cultural Society and well-wishers held commemorations at Stanley Square in Makokoba, where the late Vice-President launched his political career.

Senior Zanu PF members were conspicuous by their absence, with only Tshinga Dube attending.

Zanu PF is reportedly on a collision course with the Nkomo family, with reports that the party is planning its own parallel celebrations, which start today.

The commemoration procession brought business to a standstill, as more than 400 people filled the streets in the morning.

The numbers swelled as the procession reached Stanley Square.

The procession made a detour at the proposed site of the stature for close to 20 minutes, with cultural groups under the Indlukula kaNyongolo banner taking turns to dance and poets reciting Nkomo’s praises.

Dube said, while he fully backed mounting calls for the declaration of July 1 as a public holiday to honour Nkomo, he said setting aside the day will congest the already clogged public holiday calendar.

“There is no other teacher, a greater leader than Nkomo. He dedicated his life to Zimbabwe,” the Makokoba parliamentary candidate said.
“I support those who are advocating that this day be declared a national day.
“I totally agree with it because if it’s done no one will forget Nkomo and the importance of the day.”