National Railways of Zimbabwe
PredecessorRhodesia Railways
HeadquartersNRZ Parkade Centre Corner 9th Avenue and Fife Street, Bulawayo
Parent organization
Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development

National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is the parastatal railway of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). The Zimbabwean railway system was largely constructed during the time of British colonial rule and was called Rhodesia Railways (RR) until 1980. Segments of its systems were intended to be part of the Cape to Cairo Railway.


In the colonial era, Rhodesia Railways was the state railway operator in both Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Although Zambia gained independence in 1964, it was not until 1967 that Rhodesia Railways surrendered the 1 300 km (810 miles) of route and 80–90 locomotives to Zambia Railways.

Rhodesia Railways was a heavy user of the Garratt locomotive. In June 1976, 100 of its 109 steam locomotives were Garratts. For operational purposes, Rhodesia Railways was divided into two areas: those lines north-east of Gwelo (now Gweru) fell into the Eastern Area, with all other lines in the Southern Area.

In January 2023, Respina Zinyanduko was appointed substantive General Manager of the NRZ. She had been serving in an acting capacity.

In January 2023, at the age of 81 years, Tshinga Dube was appointed to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board by Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Felix Mhona.[1]

He was appointed to the NRZ board to serve for a three-year term ending December 6, 2025.

Following criticism over the appointment, Dube said he did not care what people said, saying his mind was still sharp.[2] He was quoted as saying:

I was appointed by my President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is the appointing authority. If you have queries, go and ask him.

l have committed no sin to be appointed to the NRZ board, after all, l am not the chief executive officer.

I don’t work on my feet, but I use my brain, and my brain is still stable. l have been in the industry for many years, and have sat on over 20 boards worldwide.

l have resuscitated many companies and I don’t care what people say since I would not be able to answer all of them.


NRZ operates about 4 225 km (2 600 miles) of railway lines, all of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) providing passenger and freight services. The gauge is standard for all of Southern Africa. NRZ has an important transit function in the southern part of Africa and is well linked with neighboring countries: toward the north, at Victoria Falls the system links to the Zambia Railways, crossing the Victoria Falls Bridge. Toward the Indian ocean the system links to the Beira Railroad Corporation in Mozambique. A second line toward Mozambique reaches Maputo. To the west, a connecting line links up to Botswana Railways to reach South Africa, eventually reaching Durban and Cape Town. A direct line to South Africa from Bulawayo was opened in 1999 by the Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway. The 313 km (194-mile) Gweru-Harare section was electrified at 25 kV AC. The section was extensively vandalised and the copper cables stolen. The line is no longer functional.

Acting general manager of NRZ (and former Board Member), Respina Zinyanduko, in August 2021, had disgruntled workers opposed to a restructuring exercise push for her ouster. The exercise, began in June 2020 was intended to abolish some positions, redeploy some managers, executives and general workers and not renew short-term contracts. The exercise faced resistance from some line managers and other executives who pushed for Zinyanduko’s removal. They accused her of failure to consult, nepotism and favouritism by using the restructuring exercise to, among other objectives, hire or promote her close circle of friends and relatives by creating new top positions. A petition, dated 4 August 2021, was produced. Zinyanduko denied the charges as untrue and influenced by “resistance to change”.

The parastatal board sacked general manager Engineer Lewis Mukwada and three other senior executives: director of marketing Elector Mafunga, director of operations Samson Bhuza and director of corporate services Misheck Matanhire.

In June 2020, the late |Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joel Matiza directed the board to restructure management and bring in fresh blood to revive the rail parastatal. The NRZ required US$400 million in the short term and US$1.9 billion in the medium to long term to recapitalise its operations. Its operational efficiency and capacities had largely been affected by maladministration, impropriety and a harsh economic climate. At its peak, the NRZ moved 14.4 million tonnes against an installed capacity of 18 million tonnes annually. The NRZ was also seeking a strategic partner after the government cancelled a US$400 million deal the parastatal and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group and Transnet had agreed.

Zinyanduko was appointed acting GM in February 2021, to take over from the late Joseph Mashika, who was acting GM, and passed away in January 2021. [3]

A Turkish investor, Yapi Merkezi, was in Zimbabwe in September 2021, looking at the NRZ. After a week-long tour, he was impressed by the country’s rail. NRZ acting general manager Mrs Respina Zinyanduko confirmed there was a deal which would herald the transformation of NRZ through the rehabilitation and modernisation of the country’s railway infrastructure. The Turkish company was finalising the financial package for NRZ having collated the cost of locomotives and repairs needed to put the parastatal back on the rails. She said Cabinet had already given the thumbs-up to the deal.

During the tour, they found about 258 cautions, or what we can call rail potholes, that need to be repaired. We are now at a stage where they are doing the costing of the repairs that are needed and they also indicated that they want to procure locomotives for us as part of the deal. So they are the ones who will source the funding and provide the technical expertise that is needed. The Government has already given us the green light to enter into a contract with Yapi Merkezi, so once they finish, then we can be able to come up with terms and sign the deal.

As part of the tour, Government officials, NRZ executives and the Yapi Merkezi team travelled to Tanzania to assess some of the work that has already been done by the company. Yapi Merkezi secured a US$1,9 billion contract to build a 422-km high-speed electric railway line in Tanzania. The company was responsible for designing and constructing the railway line. “Yapi Merkezi is quite a big company which has done a lot of work in Africa and a team went to Tanzania to assess the project that has been done by the company there. This gives us confidence that we are entering a deal with the right partner who has a proven track record.” [4]

Major Accidents

  • On 27 August 2006 more than 60 people were killed in a head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Victoria Falls.
  • On 3 June 2006 five fatalities occurred in the Ngungumbane rail crash.
  • On 1 February 2003 40 people died in the Dete train crash.


The Zimbabwe National Railways Museum is in Bulawayo; it has a selection of locomotives, railway carriages and other interesting things. One of the exhibits is a Rhodesia Railways class DE2 diesel locomotive.

Well known former employees

  • Former Vice President Joshua Nkomo worked for the railway as a social worker in 1948.
  • Sir Roy Welensky, the last Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, worked as an engineer for Rhodesia Railways before entering politics.
  • Frank Edward Hough, Esq., O.B.E., was Chief Mechanical Engineer for Rhodesia Railways, from which he was appointed a C.B.E. in 1953.


  1. Tshinga Dube appointed to NRZ board, The Chronicle, Published: 23 January 2023, Retrieved: 27 January 2023
  2. Kenneth Nyangani I’m still mentally sound: Tshinga Dube, NewsDay1, Published: 27 January 2023, Retrieved: 27 January 2023
  3. Knives out for NRZ boss as workers demand ouster, The News Hawks, Published: 14 August 2021, Retrieved: 27 January 2023
  4. NRZ, Turkish investor inch closer to major deal, Nehanda Radio, Published: 26 September 2021, Retrieved: 27 Janaury 2023