The Midlands Hotel - Gweru city centre

Formerly Gwelo, Gweru is the capital of the Midlands Province and Zimbabwe's third largest city. It is the main import and export centre as well the most accessible industrial center that oversees markets through South Africa to the South and Mozambique to the east.


The city was established by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson in 1894 as a coach station, and became a military post at one time. It was a centre originally serving the gold mining operations of the district. The first buildings were lodges and hotels such as the Horseshoe Inn (now Midlands Hotel) and Latham Hotel now Gweru rural police station. [1] There were six hotels there by 1895. [2] By June of the same year the first stands of what was to become Gweru City were surveyed. Gweru was run by a Sanitary Board until it progressed to Municipal status on 18 June 1914 and it attained City Status in October 1971.[3] The first bank was established in 1896, followed by the opening of a stock exchange in 1898. In 1896, the Gwelo Times was first published. The railway arrived in 1902. in 1982, after independence, the city was renamed Gweru. [4]

Minerals mined in the area include chromite, iron ore, asbestos, limestone quartz, nickel, barytes, tungsten and silica sand. Some gold remains. [4]


Gweru is located at 19°27′S 29°49′E.[5] and it has an area of 49,166 km².[6] It is at 1420 m. 164 km NE of Bulawayo and 274 km SW of Harare. [4]

The City of Progress as it was nicknamed, Gweru was built along the Gweru river(originally iKwelo). The latter derived its name after the after the river’s high banks, where umkwelo (Ndebele - a ladder) was used by those who fetched water from it. This subsequently became the name Gweru which the city is now known. It is situated along the road and railway between Harare and Bulawayo and near the rail spur to Maputo and South Africa via Beitbridge. There are also spurs to Zvishavane, Masvingo and Shurugwi. [4]

Thornhill aerodrome, also an Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) training centre, is the airport. The Zimbabwe Military Academy is also in Gweru. The Midlands Museum in Gweru is Zimbabwe's official army and aviation museum.

Water comes mainly from two dams, the Gwenoro and the Amapongokwe. [4]

Population Distribution

The 1969 Rhodesian Census puts the population at 36 840 Africans, 8 347 Europeans, 318 Asiatics, and 667 Coloureds, for a total of 46 170. [7]

A 1975 population estimate gives 62 000 (82 % African, 15 % European). [2]

In 1987, the population was 78 918. [4]

In 2011, Gweru had a population of 48 959 comprising of 23 703 (48.5%) males and 25 256 (51.5%) females. The population was housed in about 12 642 households with an average house hold size of 3 people.[8]


In 2016, the Gweru Town Clerk, Mr Daniel Matawu was dismissed by Minister Saviour Kasukuwere. He was dismissed by the Council after he was found guilty of 15 counts of gross incompetence, inefficiency in the performance of his work, substantial neglect of duty, conduct that is inconsistent with the fulfilment of his job by a tribunal set by the Gweru Commission. He had worked for Gweru for 37 years.

High Court Judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ruled in March 2018 that Mr Matawu be reinstated as town clerk. His suspension was nullified, and his subsequent disciplinary hearing, which resulted in his dismissal, was deemed illegal.

The local authority gave Mr Matawu a salary backpay of $4 500 per month backdating to 2016 and gave him the same amount for the months that were left to complete his tenure which was due to expire in 2021. He approached the Labour Court to nullify his salary reduction from $9 000 to $ 4 500. If successful, cumulatively his salaries plus annual benefits amount to more than $216 000. He will also get a vehicle, residential and commercial stands as part of the package. Cumulatively, Mr Matawu will get a $406 000 once-off payment (terminal benefits and salary backdating to 2016).

Gweru mayor councillor Josiah Makombe last week confirmed that Gweru City Council had resolved its long-standing impasse with Mr Matawu amicably and have agreed to buy out his contract and give him an exit package. [9]

After commuting daily from her home in Redcliff, Elizabeth Gwatipedza, moved into her official residence in the city in April 2018. She spent a year commuting from Redcliff where she used to be the town secretary. She moved into a new house in South View suburb, low-density suburbs, but would not disclose how much was spent in buying the property. Investigations revealed that she was using approximately 160 litres of fuel monthly. Early this year mayor Charles Chikozho said it was council’s obligation to make sure that decent accommodation was secured for Gwatipedza as part of her package. Prior to that, council had made a resolution that Gwatipedza occupy the idle mayoral mansion, but rescinded that decision to uphold its 2015 decision for the white elephant to be turned into a guest house. [10]

In September 2019, Acting finance director Mr Owen Masimba was quoted as saying council would engage a private partner to convert the 20-roomed mayoral mansion, which has become a white elephant, into a money-spinning venture. “As part of our planned capital projects for this year, we intend to enter into a joint venture with a potential partner to turn the mayoral mansion into an accommodation and events centre,” he said. “We have set aside a budget of $300 000 to renovate the mansion, and we have since flighted an advert for expressions of interest for the project. We should be able to hire out the mansion so that it can bring revenue to council.”

The council made the resolution to hire out the mansion four years ago. The project stalled after Elizabeth Gwatipedza proposed to use it as her residence, a move that was resisted by residents. Ms Gwatipedza said council was expecting to collect significant revenue from the mansion and boost cash inflows. [11]

A board of inquiry was to receive Elizabeth Gwatipedza, 30 October 2019 to hear her testimony into the allegations leading to her 15 October 2019 suspension. The allegations include

  • failure to co-ordinate, monitor and supervise all departments resulting in employees working in silos which consequently affected service delivery.
  • negligence of duty which resulted in council being prejudiced financially.
  • contravention of the Public Procurement and Debt Management Act.
  • continuously exhibiting inconsistency in the discharge of her duties.

Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe, assumed the post of acting Town Clerk. However, there are allegations he looted more than 4 500 litres of fuel worth over $70 000 from the cash strapped local authority. In a letter dated 15 September, written to Mr Chikwekwe by Ms Gwatipedza it is alleged that he committed 84 counts of fuel theft after claiming more fuel than what he was entitled to. It also emerged that Ms Gwatipedza was in the process of suspending him for contravening Section 4 (d) (Theft or Fraud) of the Labour Act SI15 of 2006 when she was suspended on allegations of mismanagement and incompetence. [12]


  1. Brenna Matendere Munyati, Happy birthday, Gweru – the city that transformed itself, 'The Zimbabwean', Published: 15 Apr 2014, Retrieved: 28 Apr 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 [R. Kent Rasmussen (ed), Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia] (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1979) Retrieved 8 August 2019"
  3. Gweru
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019
  5. Gweru Map, Gweru Map, 'Maplandia', Published: ND, Retrieved: 28 Apr 2014
  6. SC, Gweru & Masvingo|city gallery|zimbabwe, 'Skyscape City', Published: ND, Retrieved: 28 Apr 2014
  7. [Mary Akers (ed.), Encyclopaedia Rhodesia] (The College Press, Salisbury, 1973) Retrieved 8 August 2019"
  8. Parliament Research Department, [Gweru Urban Constituency Profile, 'Parliament of Zimbabwe', Published: 2011, Retrieved: 28 Apr 2014
  9. $400k golden handshake for ex-Gweru town clerk, The Herald, Published: 17 October 2018, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  10. Gweru town clerk moves into new house, Newsday, Published: April 2014, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  11. Gweru to lease mayoral mansion, The Herald, Published: 18 September 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  12. Gweru Town Clerk’s hearing begins, The Chronicle, Published: 29 October 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020

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