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The Nkulumane Complex: A sleeping giant

by Mncedisi Nyathi
08 Mar 2023 at 10:18hrs | Views
The Nkulumane Mall is named after Nkulumane who was King Mzilikazi's son. Nkulumane was born in Mhlahlandlela, near modern-day Pretoria in South Africa. Nkulumane was named after Kuruman, where Dr. Robert Moffatt had a Christian mission of the same name, and was born during his visit. Kuruman was then "Ndebelerized" to Nkulumane.

The Nkulumane Shopping Mall is located seven kilometres from the CBD in Bulawayo. The Mall was part of the City Council's strategy to decongest the city centre in the 1990s. Thousands of families, from Tshabalala, Sizinda, Pumula, Magwegwe, Lobengula, Emganwini and Kelvin industrial areas are the main customer base that traffic the mall.

The mall is big but it's not occupied to capacity. Some shops are empty. The mall used to save locals the hustle of having to go to town to do some shopping. There used be everything at the mall. There was a clothing retail giant Power Sales, there used to be banking powerhouses CABS and POSB. There used to be retail giants OK and TM. But unfortunately, they have all disappeared.

Some of the vacant stores could be converted into internet cafes, technology and content creation hubs, and co-working spaces for local entrepreneurs. Beautiful stories can emerge from the location. Luxurious restaurants and nightspots can be opened to not only relieve the pressure in the CBD but to offer high standard places close by. Many people go to the CBD simply to find a good place to eat and drink.

The Nkulumane Mall has the potential to be a thriving heart of Bulawayo, even attracting tourists because the Khami Ruins are only 15 kilometres away. The Khami Ruins have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On their way to the ruins, tourists pass close to the mall. That must be capitalized on in order to divert tourists to the location as well.

Roseburn Game Ranch is located 12 kilometres from the mall. The ranch is home to giraffes and leopards, and visitors go there to fish and hike. So the complex is strategically located, and it is surrounded by amazing places, and I'm not sure why Bulawayo isn't fully utilizing its potential.

The mall is conveniently located because it is situated along the Masiyephambili highway, which connects Victoria Falls road to the north and Plumtree road to the south.

The complex is owned by Old Mutual.  Old Mutual owns most of the malls in Zimbabwe from Mutare to Dangamvura to Harare to Bulawayo.  One official from Old Mutual was quoted in the papers saying that they are optimistic that these malls will soon boom. If a serious investor discovers the Nkulumane complex and pours money, then I think we will see the complex rising and even surpassing its former glory. Big artists like Madlela Sikhobokhobo, Freddy Gwala, Aleck Macheso, Tongai Moyo, Sandra Ndebele, Beater Mangete, and Jays Marabini have all once performed there.

Amenities at the Mall include ZESA, the internet connection in the area is excellent, there is running municipal water, the toilets are clean, there is a parking bay that can accommodate more than 200 cars and the whole Mall is tiled. There is a police station in the mall, and at a short distance from the mall is a gas station.

What used to be OK Supermarket is now Ngamla Supermarket which is owned by a South Africa based Zimbabwean millionaire, 37 year old Mpumelelo Phiri. Mr. Phiri poured over US$1.7 million in evolving the supermarket. If Old Mutual can get all of the shops renovated and spruced up like the Ngamla supermarket, then the Nkulumane complex will become beautiful again and people will flock back.

If the Nkulumane complex is well developed, even houses in the surrounding areas will appreciate in value as well. According to studies, homes in well-developed areas tend to sell for more money, and sell in much shorter periods of time than homes in less developed townships like Cowdray Park, where it can be challenging to sell a house.

Although it is now a shadow of its former self, the mall is still beautiful. It needs some renovations and painting here and there. Vilakazi Street in Soweto serves as an excellent model for what the Nkulumane Complex can be.

The Bulawayo City Council collaborated with four partners to build a Vegetable Wholesale Market just behind the Nkulumane Shopping Mall. The four partners are the Zimbabwean government, the UN Development Programme, Danish Church Aid, and the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association. When completed, the Vegetable Market will be ideal for connecting rural farmers to urban markets, as well as providing a clean, safe, and secure space to sell fresh farm produce. When the pandemic hit in 2019, there was no local place where people could buy fresh vegetables. People were forced to visit the CBD. So, bringing such services down to ekasi will enable coping with future pandemics.

Attached to the complex to the north is a terminus rank. Buses to Lupane, Tsholotsho, Kezi, Maphisa, and Solusi depart from here. The terminus requires immediate attention because it is broken down. The shades, as well as the vending stalls, need to be repaired. Bulawayo vending licenses cost US$23 per year and US$11 per month. Some of that money should be channelled back here so that the terminus can be renovated.

Source - Mncedisi Nyathi