Local Government minister, July Moyo has defended a recent, controversial government move to impose new names on some of Bulawayo’s major roads.

Government was taken to court by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) earlier this year after it unilaterally imposed the names on city streets.

BPRA through their lawyers Job Sibanda and Associates filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging S1167/20 under Names (Alterations) (Amendment of Schedule) Notice.

In his response to the court challenge, Moyo maintained he acted within the confines of the law when he gazetted the renaming of some streets in major cities and towns.

Moyo also dismisses claims he did not consult stakeholders in the city.

His response was filed through the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s office.

Moyo argued that section (4) (2) of the names Alteration Act Chapter 10:14 allowed him to change the names.

“Section (4) (2) of the names Alteration Act Chapter 10:14 provided that the minister shall not alter the name of any public building, road or street except after consultations with the person in whom the ownership or control of the buildings, roads or street is vested.

“The cabinet at its 41st meeting discussed the issues of change of street names within various local authorities countrywide,” responded Moyo in his application.

The minister said on 14 January 2020, he wrote to all the local authorities affected with the proposed name change consulting on the changes and requested submissions.

“On 10 February, 2nd respondent replied to the ministry with their submissions and highlighted that their comments would be presented to the cabinet committee on name changes of street names which is chaired by Vice President Kembo Mohadi,” said Moyo.

The minister said 2nd respondent (Bulawayo city council) was advised of the government decision to change the names.

“It is therefore not correct to allege that the procedure of the enabling Act was not followed. The necessary consultations were done with 2nd respondent,” said the minister.

In his founding affidavit, BPRA executive chairperson Ambrose Sibindi maintained the name changes were a nullity since they violated some provisions of the Urban Councils Act.