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Bulawayo Metropolitan Province
653 337

Bulawayo Metropolitan Province is located in the south west of the country. It is Zimbabwe’s second largest city and has five districts which are Bulawayo Central, Imbizo, Khami., Mzilikazi and Reigate. Politically the city is divided into twelve House of Assembly constituencies and these are Bulawayo East,Bulawayo south,Bulawayo Central,Lobengula,Magwegwe,Mkokoba,Nkulumane,Pelandaba,Mpopoma and Pumula,Luveve,Makokoba,Emkhandleni-Entumbane Magwegwe.


It is home to about 653 337 people and the population comprises of both sexes of different nationalities although the majority are local Zimbabweans (figures as at 2012).


Bulawayo is strategically located and consequently forms the axis of road and rail network links to the rest of the country and the southern African region providing important railway linkages to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. It is also the manufacturing and industrial centre with a large presence of heavy industries, although over the years much of the industrial infrastructure has been decrepit and deteriorated owing to the poor economic performance and de-industrialization.


Bulawayo is a multicultural city inhabited by people of the various ethnic groups in Zimbabwe such as the Ndebele who are a majority, shona, Tonga, Kalanga, Venda and Sotho. Its diversity is also in the wide range of leisure and recreational activities it has to offer from sports facilities, gardens, cultural centres, art and craft and lodges, nature reserves and its proximity to some of the most sensational national tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls and Hwange national Park.

Geography and climate

The province is located on a plain that marks the highveld of Zimbabwe and is closer to the watershed between the Zambezi and Limpopo drainage basins. As a consequence of the high altitude the city enjoys a subtropical climate. It experiences three broad seasons, a dry cool winter season from May to August, a hot dry period in early summer from late August to early November and a warm wet period from early November to April. The hottest month is October and the coldest is July and temperatures range from an average of 21 in July to 30 in October.

Historical Background

The Bulawayo area has been populated since prehistoric times. The San (Bushman) people painted their pictures in the caves of the Matobo Hills, the Rozvi kings built a stone city at Khami and the Ndebele state gave the city its name. Bulawayo has been an administrative capital since the late 1800s. It was the capital of the Ndebele state when Lobengula one of the sons of King Mzilikazi ascended to the throne. The initial town was established in 1872 known as “Gibixhegu”, which was later, renamed Bulawayo after a fierce battle between people loyal to Nkulumane the heir apparent and Lobengula which ended with a victory for Lobengula.

In 1893 another war was fought between the European settlers led by Leander Starr Jameson and the Ndebele under Lobengula. This resulted in the defeat of the Ndebele nation and the burning down of the Town. The modern Bulawayo city was founded in 1893, acquired a municipal status in 1897 and attained city status in 1943.


The 2002 and 2012 Census Report indicated that of the school going population in Bulawayo Province, 4.47% were at early education, 54.62% were attending primary school, 36.88% at secondary and 4% attending tertiary education. The 2003 Poverty Assessment Report established the literacy rate for Bulawayo province at 93%, a rate higher than the national average of 89% and second only to Harare. The literacy rate regimentation amongst the very poor, poor and non poor was 92% and 94% respectively. The PASS Report also highlighted that Bulawayo province has the highest percentage of qualified teachers at both primary and secondary school levels (96% and 94%).The pupil to teacher ratio for primary schools was at 35 and 27 for secondary schools.

Primary Education

Bulawayo Province has 125 primary schools and a total enrollment of 101 799 pupils. The distribution of primary enrollment reveals girls are a marginal majority numbering 51 300 (50.39%) and boys a minority at 50 499 (49.61%). There are 3027 teachers which brings the teacher to pupil ratio at 1:33, a figure which is better off than the national average of 38, although worse off than the national envisaged ideal of 28 under the Millennium Development Goals. The classroom to pupil ratio is a very negative 1:39 indicating the need for more learning space within the primary schools of the province.

Secondary and Tertiary Education

The total secondary school enrollment in the province is 48 418 pupils from 48 secondary schools. Girls number a majority 25 432 (52%), and boys are a minority 22 986 (48%). The teacher to pupil ratio is a very positive 1:21, reflecting adequate teaching personnel in the schools. The major tertiary institutions of learning in the city are The National University of Science and Technology (NUST), The Zimbabwe School of Mines, Bulawayo Polytechnic, Bulawayo Teachers' College, United College of Education and Solusi University.


Bulawayo is an industrial town which is home to a number of manufacturing industries. During the colonial days it was referred to as “the Manchester of Rhodesia” due to its heavy industrial sites. Notable industries included Zimbabwe Engineering Company (ZECO), Hubert Davies, Radar Metal, National Blankets Limited, Merlin, Tregers,Hunyani Holdings and The Cold Storage Commission. Over the years however many of the industries have suffered from the economic meltdown and closed down forcing several people into unemployment. As a result of its links to the border with South Africa, Botswana and Zambia cross border trade is one of the most common sources of livelihoods. Informal employment also plays a major part as the very poor and poor migrate to seek casual work opportunities in the farms around Umguza and Nyamandlovu during the agricultural seasons.Other sources of livelihood include vending, the informal sector which plays a significant part in the province's economy, as the 2002 Poverty Assessment and Survey Report noted that 31% of the people employed were in the informal sector, although 71% of these were below the TCPL.

Features and Attractions

The province, despite the recent economic down turn still remains a major industrial and commercial centre in southern Africa. It is a modern relatively clean and tranquil city, with wide tree lined streets and beautiful Parks. There are many tourist facilities and attractions.

The Centenary park Gardens

Located in the city centre, it has a theatre, a Caravan and Camping site. There is a lot of sculpture on sale in the garden decorated by various flowers.

The Railway Museum

A collection of historical steam locomotives, rolling stock and station buildings, with a variety of exhibits dating from the earliest days of railway history.

The Museum of Natural History

Featuring magnificent displays of African birds, mammals, insects, human history, minerals and more, including the second largest mounted elephant in the world, the Natural History Museum is a fascinating archive of the diversity of Zimbabwe's natural wealth.

Jairos Jiri Craft Shop

Founded by Jairos Jiri to provide a source of income for other disabled groups, the shop offers a wonderful variety of traditional arts and crafts.


Two co-operatives producing traditional and modern bead work articles and jewellery based on traditional Ndebele patterns.

Art Gallery

A branch of the National Gallery in Bulawayo, the beautifully-restored Douslin House, a colonial building houses a collection of traditional and modern art, including sculpture. On-site workshops offer handmade batiks, and there is a shop which sells artwork, curios, sculptures and genuine tribal artefacts.

Centenary and Central Parks

Built and laid out for the 1953 Central Africa Centenary Exhibition, sixty years after the founding of modern Bulawayo, the parks feature many palm-lined walks and colourful flower displays, a classic fountain and expanses of shady lawns. There is also an aviary, putting course and a miniature railway which runs at weekends.

The Matobo Hills National Park

A Unesco World Heritage Site and home to the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. It is an area of spectacular natural beauty, featuring huge weathered granite rock formations. It is the spiritual home of the ancient Mwari cult, and holds a long and magical history. The Park contains a separate, intensive-conservation Game Reserve protecting a number of White Rhinoceros among other species. The Matobo Hills are home to the largest concentration of birds of prey in Africa. Overnight or longer visits can be booked with any of the several beautiful safari lodges around the Park.

Khame Ruins

A Unesco World Heritage Site . The ruins consist of extensive terraces and passages supported by massive, decorative dry stone walling. Stone construction is estimated to have begun at Khame 500 years ago, when the city became the seat of the Rozvi rulers. A small museum displays relics and artifacts found at the site, some over 10 000 years old.

Tshabalala Sanctuary

Just 10km from the city, the sanctuary is perfect for visitors who only have a few hours for game-viewing. It contains no dangerous predators, but herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Wildebeeste and Tsessebe (Hartebeeste) and other smaller species. There is a small dam attracting wild waterfowl, and walking and cycling is permitted. Horseback trails can be arranged with advance booking.

Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage

Chipangali is a home for orphaned, sick or abandoned wild animals, and has through its specialised experience developed into a wildlife breeding and research centre. Animal enclosures are set among landscaped gardens, there is a large walk-in aviary and a tearoom for visitors. A visit to Chipangali rewards visitors with close-up views of an extremely wide variety of animals and birds.

Mguza Nature Reserve

This 650-hectare park is a magnet for ornithologists and birding enthusiasts. Hundreds of different species have been recorded in a single day. The park also contains several wildlife species, and there are picnic spots, picturesque walks and drives. Bulawayo is a hub for the tourist industry in Zimbabwe, and any kind of safari can be booked with local travel agents. Just a few hours away up the north road lies the worldfamous Hwange National Park and the Victoria Falls.


Bulawayo has world class hotels such as Bulawayo Sun,Bulawayo Rainbow, and Holiday Inn. There are other numerous city hotels of excellent quality such as Churchill hotel. The city also has a camping site and a caravan park in the city center. It is important to note that due to the city’s growth a number of guest houses have developed also.


The province offers lot sporting activities soccer is popular in the city with a lot of soccer fields the major ones being Babourfields, Luveve and white city Stadium. In addition, there are numerous good quality golf courses. There are also Queens Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club two of the three grounds in Zimbabwe in which test match Cricket are played.


The province has a variety of the state of art malls with a very good range of shopping facilities. There is Ascot Shopping Centre at the southern western edge of the CBD; this up market shopping mall is found with in the vicinity of the Law density suburbs. There is also Bulawayo Centre in the City Centre. In the western suburbs are Lobengula Shopping Complex as well as Nkulumane Shopping Centre.

Transport and infrastructure

With its location at a vantage point in the sub-Saharan region Bulawayo is at the center of a systematically planned transport network which connects it to the west, north, east and south of the country. It is the hub of the country’s rail system and is linked by rail to Victoria Falls, Harare, Beitbridge, Plumtree. The rail infrastructure also connects Bulawayo to Zambia, Botswana and South Africa through the privately owned Bulawayo Beitbridge Rail way. The road system also links the city to all the major parts of the country including Victoria Falls, Beitbridge, Plum tree and Harare. For air travel, the city has the Bulawayo airport, renamed the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport which is located 24 kilometers away from the city center. This airport has two runways measuring 2548 meters and 1326 meters in length. The airport is operated by two commercial airlines, Air Zimbabwe and South African Air ways and these run flights to Harare, Johannesburg, and Victoria Falls.

Health Facilities

The province is endowed with many health facilities ranging from clinics, surgeries, hospitals and specialist medical facilities. The major medical centers in the province are United Bulawayo Hospital and Mpilo Hospital which are government owned and these have specialized facilities for opportunistic infections, nervous diseases, eye problems and cancer. Other hospitals in the province include Mater dei, Thorngrove and Mlondolozi. Most of the medical centers in the province are private owned.17 clinics most of which are in the in the high density suburbs are council owned to provide affordable health care to low income and poor urban families.

Economic and Social problems

Like all the major metropolitan provinces Bulawayo suffers from the problems occasioned by rapid urbanization which include high levels of unemployment, high levels of pollution as a result of poor waste management and environmental control, urban agriculture which although essential for urban food security has impacted negatively on the city’s landscape, the depletion of wet lands as result of human activity. Population growth has also created accommodation problems and the mushrooming of slums and shanties. This demographic explosion has also placed a heavy strain on the city’s sanitation and water delivery system. As a result of lack of capitalization a lot of city’s infrastructure including parks is falling apart. The major problem confronting Bulawayo city is water and this is a perennial problem which has not been rectified for quite some time. Although the city is supplied by five dams (Umzingwane, Upper and Lower Ncema, Inyankuni and Insiza), there is need for other water projects to supplement existing supplies.

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