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National monument status for Byo’s Hanging Tree

The National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) is planning to accord national monument status to the Hanging Tree in Bulawayo.

The Hanging Tree, situated between Connaught and Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue in Bulawayo, was used to hang nine blacks who worked against the white settlers during the first Umvukela uprising in 1896.

In the latest Bulawayo council minutes, Director of Housing and Community Services, Dictor Khumalo, reported that on March 19, 2021, he received a letter dated December 17, 2020, addressed to the Town Clerk with a request for consent to nominate the hanging tree as a national monument.

The letter was written by the NMMZ Regional Director, Dr Moira Fitzpatrick seeking permission for the tree to be accorded a national monument status.

“National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe at the request of the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Cde Kazembe Kazembe is in the process of nominating the Hanging Tree in Bulawayo to become a national monument,” she said.

“The tree is of historical importance as it was used during the height of the first Umvukela/Ndebele uprising in 1986 to hang nine African men found guilty by Settlers leaders for spying for Ndebele against the occupation of the land.”

Dr Fitzpatrick indicated the upgrading of the site into a national monument was part of efforts to recognise the contributions of the First Chimurenga as part of the liberation heritage in the country.

“The upgrading of the site into a national monument will see the site being given national recognition. We, therefore, ask for consent in the declaration of the site into a national monument,” she said in the letter.

The local authority granted permission to the National Museums to go ahead and declare the Hanging Tree as a national monument.

“The department (Housing and Community Services), Chamber Secretary and Financial Services departments had no objection to the request by the National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe in declaring the site and tree as a national monument,” read part of the council minutes.

The city noted the declaration would go a long way in preserving the site which was of great political and historical significance.

“The declaration of the site might result in accrual of economic benefits as the place would be a centre of attraction and it would most likely bring a to the city from tourism-related activities,” read the council minutes.

However, although permission was granted, the city’s Financial Services Department noted that it should be clear that costs related to declaring the Hanging Tree as a monument had not been catered for in the 2021 Budget (securing its location).

“This might require virementing funds to cover the costs. (b) Economic benefits might accrue as a result of the nomination. The consent should therefore capture the envisaged costs and future economic benefits,” said the council minutes.

The city council resolved to recommend that they accede to the request by the NMMZ and declare the site a national monument.

It was also agreed that the NMMZ provide resources and make necessary arrangements to secure the site as a national monument.

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