Nkomo statue project resumes

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Construction of a pedestal where the late nationalist Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s North Korean-made statue will be mounted was set to resume yesterday amid reports the project might take two more months to complete.

The bronze-coated statue that has raised controversy would be mounted at the intersection of Main Street and Eighth Avenue in the city centre.

In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo City Council said some sections of the statue site would be partially closed from yesterday until March 17 “to facilitate construction of the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo Statue”.

“The public is hereby informed that portions of intersections of Main Street and Eighth Avenue shall be temporarily closed during the stated above period to facilitate construction work of the statue,” said town clerk Middleton Nyoni.

But by yesterday afternoon, the contractor had not started operations on the site.

Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi was not available for comment on the latest development as his mobile phone went unanswered.

At some point, the site had become an eyesore with heaps of gravel dumped at the abandoned site.

Construction of the pedestal stopped after a Harare-based contractor deserted the project over payment wrangles.

In 2010, the statue was hastily pulled down after the Nkomo family raised concern that they had not been involved in the project.

The family said the statue itself was too small for a man of his stature.

They said the statue was neither the landmark nor the monument that it should be.

Nkomo, who was affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe, died in 1999.

The government then engaged the Nkomo family through the Joshua Nkomo Foundation and construction resumed at the end of July last year.

The deadline for the completion of the project has been moved forward on several occasions.

In December, the government tried to speed up work on the construction of the statue to enable President Robert Mugabe to unveil it during the Zanu PF conference in December, with no success.