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Zvishavane (known until 1983 as Shabani) is a mining town in Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. Surrounded by low hills, it lies 97 kilometres (60 mi) west of Masvingo, on the main Bulawayo-Masvingo road. Other roads lead from Zvishavane to Gweru, 121 kilometres (75 mi) north, and Mberengwa, 27 kilometres (17 mi) south-west. It is also on direct rail links to Gweru and Beit Bridge which then link up with Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and to Maputo in Mozambique, and Pretoria in South Africa. It has a private airport serving the city.
According to the 1982 Population Census, the town had a population of 26,758, by 1992 this had risen to 32,984. The population was estimated at 35,000 in 2002.
The town developed as a residential centre for an asbestos mine which started operations in 1916 but growth was slow until the railway reached the town in 1928. The town was granted municipal status in 1968. Although the asbestos mine is the biggest producer of the mineral in Zvishavane, platinum, gold, beryl, chromite iron ore at Buchwa and recently discovered huge deposits of diamond at Murowa are also mined in the area.
Origin of the Names: "Shabanie" and "Zvishavane"
Zvishavane was formerly called Shabanie (used by the mine) or Shabani (used for the town). The name "Shabanie" has been said to be derived from "shavani", a Ndebele word meaning "finger millet", or "trading together".
Zvishavane is a Shona name, which is said to be derived from "zvikomo zvishava", which means "red hills". The precises meaning of Zvishavane is said to be "reddish or 'reddened' hills", referring to the many surrounding low hills that are characterised by red soil. Mashava, formerly Mashaba, is another nearby asbestos mining town owned by the same company. The name "mashava" is a Shona name that means "of red", which is derived from "mavhu mashava" that literally means "the soil that is red". Zvishavane also focuses on the colour with the "zvi-" implying the small hills, i.e., "zvikomo".