Mutare | Zimbabwe

Mutare (known as Umtali until 1983 ) is the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe, with an urban population of approximately 188,243 and rural population of approximately 260,567. It is the capital of Manicaland province.

The area was the site of Chief Mutasa's kraal. In 1890 A. R. Coquhoun was given concessionary rights and Fort Umtali (the fort later became Mutare) was established between the Tsambe and Mutare Rivers. The word mutare originates from the word 'Utare' meaning iron (or possibly meaning gold). The name was probably given to the river as a result of gold being discovered in the Penhalonga valley through which the Mutare River runs.

In 1891 the location was moved to a site now known as Old Mutare, about 14 km north of the city centre. In 1896 the construction of the railway between Beira and Bulawayo led to the town being moved a third time so that it was closer to the railway line – compensation was paid by the British South Africa Company to the townspeople for the cost of moving. The town was proclaimed a municipality on 11 June 1914 and in 1971 it was granted city status. The name was officially changed from Umtali to Mutare in 1982.

The white population in Mutare dropped from 9,950 in 1969 to 8,600 in June 1978.

The city had a tramway from January 26, 1897 to May 23, 1921 which transported passengers from the Railway station up to the (then Umtali Club) now Mutare Club. The Tramway was at the centre of Main Street where the palm trees now stand.

There were plans to set up a Stock Exchange in Umtali. The main post office was at the site where CABS centre now stands.

Mutare, like most cities in Zimbabwe, classifies residential suburbs according to the population density.

The most upscale suburbs (low-density suburbs) such as Murambi,Fairbridge Park (named after the founder of the present site of Mutare), Morningside and Tiger's Kloof are located on the north end of the city along the foothills, while Palmerston, Darlington, Greenside, Greenside extension and Bordervale are east of the city center, near the border with Mozambique.

In the west are the medium-density suburbs of Yeovil, Westlea and Florida (and Train Houses), as well as the high density suburb of Chikanga, which was constructed in phases (Phase 1; 2; 3) beginning in the late eighties.

Further west of Chikanga lies the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle and Hobhouse. South of the railway track lies the high-density suburb of Sakubva, which contains nearly half of the city's population despite an area of less than four square miles. Sakubva is considered to be the poorest of Mutare's suburbs, and its economy is centred around a large outdoor food and flea market-and the "Musika weHuku" (The chicken market).

A few miles to the south, hidden from view from the rest of the city by a series of hills, is the high-density suburb of Dangamvura. The low-density areas of Weirmouth (Plots) and Fern valley are also on the southern outskirts of the city; in these areas residential lots exceed an acre, and market gardening is an economic activity.In fern valley there is also the new state university,Manicaland college of applied Sciences.

Further to the south along the road to Masvingo and outside the city limits is the high-density town of Zimunya. Mutare's main industrial areas are south of the railway and west of Sakubva, although there is also some light industry just east of the southern part of the city centre at "Greenmarket" and surrounding areas.

These are some of the suburbs of Mutare.

Journalists found a body in the mine with 'what appeared to be blood and fluids dripping onto the skulls below'. The opposition MDC called for research on all violence that included killings of its supporters during disputed elections in 2008. Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern that "international best practice on exhumations is not being adhered to ... [M]ishandling of these mass graves has serious implications on potential exhumations of other sites in Zimbabwe. Thousands of civilians were also killed in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the mid 1980s and are allegedly buried in mine shafts and mass graves in these regions", AI added.

According to human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the government of Zimbabwe violates the rights to shelter, food, freedom of movement and residence, freedom of assembly and the protection of the law. In 2009, Gregory Stanton, then President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, stated there was "clear evidence that Mugabe government was guilty of crimes against humanity and that there was sufficient evidence of crimes against humanity to bring Mugabe to trial in front of the International Criminal Court.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. Since 1995, the government has carried out campaigns against both homosexual men and women. President Mugabe has blamed gays for many of Zimbabwe's problems and viewed homosexuality as an "un-African" and immoral culture brought by European colonists and practiced by only "a few whites" in his country.

Opposition gatherings are frequently the subject of brutal attacks by the police force, such as the crackdown on an 11 March 2007 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rally and several others during the 2008 election campaign.

In the attacks of 2007, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 other opposition activists were arrested and severely beaten by the police. After his release, Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC that he suffered head injuries and blows to the arms, knees and back, and that he lost a significant amount of blood and hundreds were killed.

Police action was strongly condemned by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the European Union and the United States. While noting that the activists had suffered injuries, but not mentioning the cause of them, the Zimbabwean state-owned daily newspaper The Herald claimed the police had intervened after demonstrators "ran amok looting shops, destroying property, mugging civilians, and assaulting police officers and innocent members of the public". The newspaper argued that the opposition had been "willfully violating the ban on political rallies".

The ICT sector of Zimbabwe has been growing at a fast pace. A report by the mobile internet browser company, Opera, in June/July 2011 has ranked Zimbabwe as Africa's fastest growing market.
A market in Mbare, Harare

Since 1 January 2002, the government of Zimbabwe has had its lines of credit at international financial institutions frozen, through US legislation called the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA). Section 4C instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to direct directors at international financial institutions to veto the extension of loans and credit to the Zimbabwean government. According to the United States, these sanctions target only seven specific businesses owned or controlled by government officials and not ordinary citizens.

Zimbabwe maintained positive economic growth throughout the 1980s (5% GDP growth per year) and 1990s (4.3% GDP growth per year). The economy declined from 2000: 5% decline in 2000, 8% in 2001, 12% in 2002 and 18% in 2003. Zimbabwe's involvement from 1998 to 2002 in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. From 1999–2009, Zimbabwe saw the lowest ever economic growth with an annual GDP decrease of 6.1%.

The downward spiral of the economy has been attributed mainly to mismanagement and corruption by the government and the eviction of more than 4,000 white farmers in the controversial land confiscations of 2000. The Zimbabwean government and its supporters attest that it was Western policies to avenge the expulsion of their kin that sabotaged the economy.

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