Nkayi is a district in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe, about 100 km (62 mi) west of Kwekwe and 168 km (104 mi) northeast of Bulawayo in Nkayi communal land. It is believed that its name originates from the Tonga word "Uyinkayi" meaning "where are you going". The main language spoken is Ndebele.
It has two constituencies and has produced some of Zimbabwes liberation war heroes like Roy Reagen Yembeyembe Ndlovu of Mdengelele area. The place has a poor road network where Ntubeni bus services dominate the route. It has been divided into two constituencies south and north the south being occupied by Zanu-PF sithembiso nyoni and the north by the MDC led by Welshman Ncube. The former MP of the area was Welshman Mabhena.
Nkayi has been neglected by the ruling regime on tribal grounds. It is underdeveloped with poor water and school facilities. There are several chiefs in the area including the Sikobokobo. Shangani River, which is one of the biggest rivers in Zimbabwe, covers the area. People from Mdengelele and Malinga use it for their livestock to drink and take water for consumption.
It has one major boarding school Hlangabeza, which is near the district offices. Along its border with Gokwe, Nkayi has two schools: Tsheli primary and Tsheli high school.
There are two main primary schools near the local business centre; Dimpamiwa Primary School some 3 km (1.9 mi) along the Nkayi-Kwekwe highway and Nkayi Primary School which is also some 3 km (1.9 mi) along the Nkayi-Gwelutshena dust road. Zenka Mission Primary School is a feeder school to Mpumelelelo High School. It is run by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In 2004 the school won the Secretary's Bell, a high achievement in the country. Plans to build a local primary school are underway and await funding.
Nkayi area has one of the best mission hospitals in the Matabeleland region Mbuma mission. A number of NGOs operate near Nkayi. Freestigma Africa Trust's Founder and Executive Director Sir Frera Washington submitted his organisation papers to the Nkayi local authority for permission to operate in the marginalised district. It has a powerful village which is Sabahwisa village under village leader Gayela and the chief is Madliwa.
Nkayi Rural District Hospital serves the district. In 2013 there were media reports that indicated the breakdown in the services the hospital catered to the citizens, including the mortuary. Another hospital in this district is the Mbuma Mission Hospital.
The main business operation in Nkayi is the teak timber processing plant (Nkayi Timber Processing Company) which is the largest privately owned company employing most of the locals. Nkayi has one of the best teak frosets (Gwampa forest).
Nkayi central business district is divided into two main shopping centres, the Old business centre rather known as Nkayi Downstores dominated by local businessmen Stanely Faranando and Philani Moyo and Nkayi New Shopping centre dominated by Ngqaba Sibanda and Machingura.
The Old shopping centre's customers are mainly bus customers en route. Philani Moyo operates a number of general dealers and butcheries whereas S Faranando's restaurant is behind Malandu General dealer and an ecocash agent at his other outlet Maphikelela General dealer. As of 2016 many people favour going for their meals at junction store or at idale lezinkiyankiya owned by local businessman Zankiyankiya. Ndebele (Zankiyankiya) also owns a church known as the Followers of Christ near Nkayi ZRP.
The New shopping centre largely relies on the locals and has two major supermarkets operated by Sibanda and Machingura. Nkayi has one local bakery which was formerly operated by F Maundura but is now operated by Machingura. The bakery supplies all outlets in and around Nkayi.
Also found in Nkayi is the industrial area in the eastern part of the new shopping centre. Industrial part is mainly dominated by the Nkayi Timber processing company run by Jourbert. The company process huge masses of timber from locally exploited wood supplies being Sivomo and Gwampa bush. The Nkayi Grain Markerting (GMB) depot is near the timber company and is a local supplier of grain and fertiliser.
The industry also consist of metal fabricators and wood fabricators, of which the metal fabrication is mainly done by a small company, Mthimkhulu Enterprises, that is also near GMB and is run by M Donga.
There is also Mpumelelo Business Centre in Mpande Ward 22. It is a mini growth point with several stores, bottle stores, a beer hall, veterinary service, cattle sale, agritex office and Zenka Rural Health Centre is there.
Only Sihube bus service and Ntubeni bus service operate in the area. Accidents are common. In January 2012, Sihube bus overturned at the 23 km peg along Bulawayo-Nkayi Road. One busy road is the Kwekwe-Nkai Road, which is partly the Luveve-Silobela Road which passes through Silobela to Kwekwe. It joins the Kwekwe-Gokwe Road at Luveve near Kwekwe River bridge.
Recent developments in Nkayi
The Zetdc southern region opened client services centre at Nkayi the former Tshugulu beer hall which is in the Down store business centre area. The manager of the centre is Munetsi Gwemba, who is a prominent ZANU PF supporter and is aspiring to be member of parliament for the area. He reticulated the whole of nkayi and constructed a 33/11kv substation with a capacity of 5mva at a cost of 1.2 million.