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The Bulawayo civic centre; a labour of love? by Innocent Batsani Ncube

‘Bulawayo has stood tall across the country as a better organised and cleanest city. From garbage collection, road and traffic maintenance (traffic lights) and good driving behaviour,’ “Skies” remains a city to reckon with.’[1]

Tower Block and Revenue Hall

A running thread in generations of residents that have called Bulawayo home has been their deep veneration and steadfast belief in its status as an exceptional habitat.

Exemplary epochs of this exceptionalism are traced from the time King Lobengula established it as his capital (1870). Through the phase of colonial rule which laid out a meticulously planned city with ‘wide roads flanked by beautiful tree-lined streets, and parks’[2], to the contemporary era that exalts Bulawayo’s comparative cleanliness.

Bulawayo resident, Vusa Khumalo encapsulates this regard of the city; ‘We treat this town like our home, everybody sweeps his house every morning and we believe the same should be done all around the city’.[3]

The City Hall is arguably Bulawayo’s best-known and widely used architectural representation of the City’s ethos, yet, its operational nerve centre is domiciled to the east of the Hall at the less referenced but hugely significant Tower Block and Revenue Hall. Recent news reports suggested that the City has ‘misplaced’ the title deeds of these important buildings. This sad development is an ‘against the grain’ outlier compared to the reviews of competence that Bulawayo’s custodians usually attract.

The two blocks (Tower Block and Revenue Hall) are located in Josiah Tongogara Street, formerly Wilson Street, bordered by Leopold Takawira Street to the north, 8th avenue to the south , Samuel Parirenyatwa to the east and Robert Mugabe in the west.[4] The surrounding landscape is a sight to behold, resplendent with manicured flower gardens, lush green lawns, and well paved pathways.

The buildings were designed by Harvey, Bufe, and Partners,[5] built by Robert Construction Company (1975-1977). The complex was opened by Councillor, Mrs J.L Sharland, then Mayor of the City on 10 March 1978.

These two buildings that are contrasts in size, form the heartbeat of city administration. The Tower Block is a majestic twelve storey building which houses four of the six city departments including engineering, financial, health and housing and community services. The other two (town clerk and chamber secretary) departments are housed at the Bulawayo City Hall. In contrast, the Revenue Hall is a modest single storey but beautifully designed structure with reflective glazing and a spacious interior for banking services, payment of rates and municipal taxes.

Given the foregoing, these two important buildings are at the heart of sustaining a long held tradition of Bulawayo residents’ civic pride. They represent in concrete terms that part of the Zimbabwean state which they can, and do love.


[1] Edmore Mazivofa in The Chronicle Newspaper; Bulawayo: Zim’s best run city, 23 July 2015

[2] Michael Alvin: BULAWAYO! The City of Kings (and Queens) in

[3] In Edmore Mazivofa in The Chronicle Newspaper; Bulawayo: Zim’s best run city, 23 July 2015

[4] To plot present day directions, the article drew from descriptions used in Alex D Jack and Louis W Bolze Book- Bulawayo’s Changing Skyline

[5] Architects inscribed on plaque at the entrance of the Tower Block


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