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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


NYAMBARA, Pius. The politics of locating the third spinning mill in Southern Rhodesia, 1951-1953. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.46-68. ISSN 2309-8392.

The textile industry in Southern Rhodesia witnessed rapid growth during and after the Second World War. The industry was largely dependent on locally grown cotton and the capacity to spin the cotton into yarn. The cotton Industry and Research Board (CRIB) established to oversee the development of the cotton industry in the colony, constructed the first spinning mill in Gatooma in 1943 with a capacity of 1 000 spindles, which was later increased to 35 000 spindles with the construction of the No. 2 mill in 1951. In the same year the government sanctioned the construction of a third mill, but it was not immediately built. The increase in the number of industrial concerns using the CRIB yarn and the expected expansion of textile demands from a wider federal market from 1953, generated debate in government, business circles and by interested parties on the possible location of the third mill. This article examines these debates that have largely escaped the attention of scholars who have largely focused on other aspects of the textile industry. For reasons that are not very clear, friction between the CRIB and the municipality of Gatooma developed to the extent that the Board expressed the desire to locate the additional mill (and thereby increase the spinning capacity of the industry) in other parts of the country rather than in Gatooma. The municipality was supported by interest groups that were motivated by the desire to retain the spinning industry in Gatooma. The article is not just about the third mill; it also examines how this struggle informs us about other aspects of the political economy of colonial Zimbabwe.

Keywords : Southern Rhodesia; Zimbabwe; Gatooma; textile industry; cotton industry.

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