GOVERNMENT has declared Stanley Square and Stanley Hall in Bulawayo’s oldest suburb, Makokoba, national monuments through a statutory instrument issued by the Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage ministry.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
In Statutory Instrument 2 of 2017, Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage minister Abednico Ncube said Stanley Square and Stanley Hall, which were constructed in 1935, were now national monuments.
“In terms of section 20 of the National Museums and Monuments Act (chapter 25:11), the minister of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage, on the recommendation of the trustees of the national monuments, hereby, declares the monument declared here-under to be national monuments,” the minister said in the notice.
Stanley Hall and Stanley Square have been known to be revered venues for the country’s nationalists such as the late Father Zimbabwe and Vice-Presidents, Joshua Nkomo, John Nkomo, Joseph Msika and many others.
Historically, Makokoba – where Stanley Square and Stanley Hall are located – was the first black African township in the city, and it has been termed the home of arts and culture, with the Amakhosi Cultural Centre located in the vicinity.
Latest council minutes of the general purposes committee report, however, show that Stanley Square and Stanley Hall remain the property of Bulawayo City Council (BCC) despite having been declared national monuments.
“The nomination of Stanley Hall and Square does not change its legal status as property of the BCC. The declaration serves to enhance its protection and preservation as an iconic site associated with the liberation history of this country,” the Department of National Monuments and Museums wrote to the council in a letter contained in the BCC minutes.
The minutes also said BCC will now have to consult the Department of National Museums and Monuments before undertaking any construction projects at the two venues to “preserve history and no financial benefits will be derived by council”.
“Any structural modifications to the building and square will have to be done in consultation with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, as provided for under the National Museums and Monuments Act Chapter 25/11.
“Our team of monuments inspectors will also carry out periodic inspections of the national monument as part of the department’s effort towards its conservation and management,” the department said.