Mthwakazi is a traditional nation made up of modern-day Matabeleland and parts of the modern-day midlands regions within the modern state of Zimbabwe. Modern-day Matabeleland is divided into three provinces: Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, the capital of the region. These provinces are located in the west and south-west of modern-day Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers.
The region is named after its inhabitants the Ndebele people. Other ethnic groups who inhabit parts of Matabeleland include the Tonga, Sotho, Kalanga, Venda among other Peoples. It has to be noted too that Mthwakazi is also home to non-Black citizens who include those of European and Asian decent among others.
Below are the proposed provinces of an autonomous Mthwakazi
Matabeleland makes just over 17 percent of the population of Zimbabwe. As of August 2012, according to the ZIMSAT or Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the region had a combined population size of 2,086,247 in a surface of area of just over 130,000 square kilometres (just over the size of England). Matabeleland South had 683 893 people, made up of 326 697 males and 356 926 females with an average size household of 4.4 in an area of 54,172 square kilometres; Matabeleland North province had a total population of 749 017 people out of the population of Zimbabwe of 13 061 239. The sex ratio (proportion of male and female population) was 48 and 52 percent, respectively, within an area of just over 75,017 square kilometres. Last but not least, in the same census, Bulawayo province had a population of 653,337 in an area of 1,706.8 square kilometres.
The major city is Bulawayo, other towns of note in the region are Beitbridge, Lupane, Plumtree, Victoria Falls and Hwange.
The Matabeleland region is characterised by a generally harsh, hot and dry climate and suffers from frequent droughts leading to food and water scarcity. Although the land is particularly fertile, the dry climate makes large-scale crop production impossible for traditional farmers resulting in perpetual food shortages for many families. During the colonial era, large numbers of cattle ranches were formed and cattle ranching has proved to be more successful than growing crops in the province.
The mighty Zambezi River provides perhaps the best hope for a long-term solution to water problems in Matabeleland. However, Zimbabwe government plans to draw water from the Zambezi River to the region via the conveniently named project Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project have yet to materialise meaning crop farming and industrial growth have continued to decline since the 1980 ‘independence’.
Bad climate aside, Matabeleland North does have a significant amount of other resources like gold, limestone, methane gas, coal, and timber. As seen in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve, the area is also known for its substantial wildlife population. However, the most famous geographic feature of Matabeleland North is Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfalls that are located on the Zambezi river on the northern border of the province.
The Victoria Falls, to the west of Bulawayo (the capital of Matabeleland) is a major tourist resort that forms a common border between Mthwakazi and Zambia.