Last Updated: 17 December 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

The Republic of Zimbabwe is contaminated with mines, mostly antipersonnel, from 10 minefields laid in the 1970s. Combat with liberation movements operating out of Mozambique and Zambia also resulted in significant quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[1]


In its statement in May 2012 to the intersessional Standing Committee on Mine Clearance in Geneva, Zimbabwe reported that 205km2 of mined areas remained to be released.[2] In its third Article 5 deadline extension request of March 2012, Zimbabwe had variously reported remaining contamination of 199km2 and 223km2.[3] Contamination comprises five minefields, referred to as: Musengezi to Rwenya, Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner, Rusitu to Muzite Mission, Sheba Forest to Beacon Hill, and Burma Valley. There are also four suspect hazardous areas (SHAs) at Kariba, Lusulu, Mukumbura, and Rushinga. It is calculated that the remaining contaminated areas contain more than 1.17 million antipersonnel mines.[4]

In July 2010, with technical assistance from the Mine Ban Treaty’s Implementation Support Unit (ISU), an analysis of the mined areas reduced the estimated extent of the problem by 300km2, to 225km2. The new estimate is based on analysis of the 1994 MineTech Survey Report, a 2000 “Completion Report” by Koch Mine-Safe, a 2010 HALO Trust Border Minefield Survey Report produced for the Government of Mozambique, and from knowledge gained by Zimbabwe’s National Mine Action Center from more than 12 years of clearance. The analysis concluded that available data on contamination were reasonably accurate.[5]

In Zimbabwe, a cordon sanitaire minefield, the typical minefield in the country, was usually laid at or on the border, with a second parallel minefield (usually a ploughshare or reinforced ploughshare minefield) between 1km and 20km behind it. Prior to 2010, survey teams had assumed the ploughshare and reinforced-ploughshare minefields had a width of 1,300m2. Based on experience from the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC) in clearing the mined areas and technical assistance from the ISU the width was found to be closer to 400m2.[6]

ZIMAC has claimed that more than 1,550 people have been killed by mines and another 2,000 have been injured since the war. It has also estimated that over 120,000 head of livestock have been killed by mines over the same period. HALO survey teams have reported that mined areas are located in the immediate proximity of houses, schools, and health clinics; that access to agricultural land is denied to farmers; that communities are separated from their primary water sources; and that cattle continue to be killed every week by landmines.[7] Livestock are as much as 70% of a household’s wealth.[8]

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority

National Mine Action Authority of Zimbabwe (NAMAAZ)

Mine action center

Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC)

International demining operators

None (NGOs planning to establish programs in 2012)

National demining operators

Zimbabwe National Army engineers

International risk education operators


National risk education operators

Armed forces/police

The National Mine Action Authority of Zimbabwe (NAMAAZ) is a policy and regulatory body on all issues relating to mine action in Zimbabwe. It was established in 2000 by the Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act. Its mandate includes policy and priority setting, fundraising, participation in international forums, and public awareness of the problem. NAMAAZ has nine high-level government members. The Deputy Secretary of Policy, Public Relations and International Affairs in the Ministry of Defense is the chair of NAMAAZ. Members include deputy secretaries from the ministries of natural resources and environment, local government, finance, labour and social welfare, and home affairs, as well as a representative from UNDP and the director of ZIMAC.[9]

ZIMAC was established in 2000 within the Ministry of Defence as the focal point and the coordination center of all mine action activities in the country. ZIMAC reports to NAMAAZ.

Because of significant funding constraints, no projects were listed for Zimbabwe in the latest Portfolio of Mine Action Projects released in May 2012 by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS).[10] Since 2000, Zimbabwe has been unable to access international financial aid due to sanctions by a number of countries.[11]

In early 2012, the ICRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Zimbabwe to train ZIMAC personnel and to provide metal detectors, protective equipment, and trauma kits.[12] On 24 May 2012, 22 officers from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) completed a train-the-trainer course with the ICRC. Lieutenant-Colonel Simbarashe Zhou, the ZIMAC training director said, “the course was an eye opener to the ZNA as they acquired modern methods of clearing mines.”[13]

On 4 April 2012, HALO Trust signed an MoU with the Government of Zimbabwe that would allow them to survey and conduct clearance operations in the Musengezi-to-Rwenya minefield on Zimbabwe’s northeast border with Mozambique.[14] In July 2012, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) signed an MoU with the Government of Zimbabwe to survey and conduct clearance along a 128km border with Mozambique in 2012–2015.[15]

Land Release

Although Zimbabwe has cleared or otherwise released several mined areas, the data it has provided on land release are extremely inconsistent. Statements at conferences, three Article 5 deadline extension requests, and annual Article 7 transparency reports offer inconsistent data on the remaining problem, and annual results reported since 2000 do not add up to the cumulative results reported in its third Article 5 deadline extension request of March 2012.

The revised original estimated contamination of 511km2 has been reduced to some 200km2, indicating that more than 300km2 has been released through clearance. Zimbabwe has reported completing clearance at Victoria Falls covering 286km2, leaving more than 20km2 for the other mined areas. However, Zimbabwe has not provided data to support this.[16] While consistently reporting five minefields and four SHAs as remaining, in the various reports mentioned above the remaining contaminated area ranges from 197km2 to 223km2.

Five-year summary of land release[17]


Mined area cleared (km2)













Survey in 2011

In 2010, ZIMAC had planned to have an international organization train two survey teams of 10 surveyors each to conduct non-technical survey in the Kariba, Lusulu, Mukumbura, and Rushinga mined areas, and a more detailed technical survey on parts of the five “known minefields” by August 2011. Planned trainings and surveys did not, however, occur in either 2010 or 2011 due to a lack of funding and technical support.[18]

HALO Trust completed surveys in 2011 in the three provinces that border Mozambique. The surveys identified 11 mined areas located entirely on Zimbabwe’s territory and not previously known, measuring a total of just over 6km2 along a length of 200km (see table below). According to HALO, the mined areas within Zimbabwe, particularly the three adjacent to Gaza Province in Mozambique, have seen incidents involving humans and animals over the years, and the mined areas are located on land for which there is a high demand.[19]

Mined areas entirely in Zimbabwe identified during a survey by HALO in Mozambique[20]



Length (km)

Estimated size of area (m²)


Sango-Chicaulacuala to Crooks Corner



Mashonaland East




Mashonaland East




Mashonaland East




Mashonaland East

Buzi River



Mashonaland Central

Kahira River-Luia River



Mashonaland Central




Mashonaland Central




Mashonaland Central

Kahira River



Mashonaland Central





Luena River







Note: Although the minefields are entirely in Zimbabwe, the names in the table are the names used in Mozambique for locations adjacent to the Zimbabwe mined areas.

Mined areas straddling Zimbabwe and Mozambique identified during HALO survey[21]



Length (km)

Estimated size of area (m²)

Mashonaland Central




Mashonaland Central













Machipanda Chito























In May 2012, at the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva, HALO Trust, in coordination with ZIMAC and the National Institute of Demining in Mozambique, presented a comprehensive national mine clearance plan at a special event that assumed there to be high density minefields covering approximately 200km2 involving time frames for clearance ranging from 10 to 30 years; the cost was estimated to be more than $400 million dollars. The clearance teams would be based in Chimoio, Manica province, in Mozambique, close to the minefields in Zimbabwe.[22]

HALO Trust has concluded that land release through survey will have very limited application in Zimbabwe because the minefields are very dense with mines and are well defined.[23] On the other hand, Zimbabwe’s Third Article 5 deadline extension request in March 2012 claims that, based on analysis from the ISU, almost half of the estimated 200km2 could be released by means other than clearance.[24] Both conclusions have strong implications for the overall cost of releasing the remaining approximate 200km2.

Mine clearance

The National Mine Clearance Squadron (NMC), a military unit within the Ministry of Defence, conducts clearance operations. It has 140 deminers and 24 support staff.[25] In 2011 and into 2012, they were clearing the Sango-Border-Post-to-Crooks-Corner minefield.[26] Detailed clearance results have not been reported, but as noted above, the Monitor has calculated that 1.6km2 of clearance/release occurred in 2011.

Safety of demining personnel

According to Major Innocent Taguta of the NMC, five deminers have been injured in the last six years during clearance operations in the Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park.[27] ZIMAC did not report any casualties from demining in 2011.

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the 22-month extension request granted in 2008 and a second, two-year, extension request granted in 2010), Zimbabwe is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 June 2013.

At the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, Zimbabwe said since the beginning of 2009 “no significant progress” had been made due to the lack of both international and national support.[28] In June 2010, at the Standing Committee meetings, Zimbabwe repeated that it would not be able to complete the planned surveying in the 22-month extension period and stated that it would request another extension.[29]

On 3 August 2010, Zimbabwe submitted a second extension request based on the findings of an ISU consultancy. The second extension requested 24 months to conduct surveys of four areas that have never been surveyed but have always been suspected to contain mines. Zimbabwe stated they were confident of accessing international assistance for the survey although they had not accessed significant funding since 2000 and did not indicate who the donors would be or who would provide the technical assistance.[30] After the survey would be completed, Zimbabwe would submit a third extension request.[31] In December 2010, the States Parties granted the 24-month extension.

On 31 March 2012, Zimbabwe submitted a third extension request, asking for two additional years until 1 January 2015, to complete surveying to better ascertain the full extent of its landmine problem, citing a lack of international support for finishing the survey. It also had commitments from ICRC, HALO Trust, and NPA on the provision of equipment and technical support in training, clearance, and survey. In its comments on the Zimbabwe request at the Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2012, the ICBL recommended that Zimbabwe submit a detailed survey and clearance plans based on its discussions with international partners in order to allow States Parties to properly assess the request before the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in December 2012.[32]

Quality Management

Deminers who were not engaged in the initial clearance conduct Quality Control/Quality Assurance in areas cleared by the NMC.[33]

Other risk reduction measures

Most warning signs around mined areas are said to have been stolen or removed for personal use.[34] In areas where mine clearance operations are being conducted, warning signs have been posted and cattle fences have been installed to prevent people from entering the mined area.[35]

Risk Education

ZIMAC is responsible for coordinating and implementing mine/explosive remnants of war risk education (RE).[36] RE is delivered during community and social gatherings in villages. More extensive RE is constrained by the lack of funding.[37]

A media outlet reported in April 2012 that transportation operators in remote areas feared they may hit landmines while driving, leaving teachers without transportation and schools short of teachers. One of the headmasters told a reporter that the Zimbabwe Army deminers conduct RE in the area, which he described as helpful.[38]


[1] UN Mine Action Service, “Joint Assessment Report on Zimbabwe,” 15 February 2000, p. 4; and Article 5 deadline Extension Request (Second Revision), 3 November 2008, p. 4.

[2] Statement of Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 May 2012.

[3] Third Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2012, pp. 6 & 9.

[4] Ibid., p. 6; and Article 7 Report, Form C, 31 March 2012.

[5] Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 3 August 2010, p. 16; and HALO Trust, “Zimbabwe: The Problem.”

[7] HALO Trust, “Zimbabwe: The Problem,” undated.

[8] HALO Trust, “Zimbabwe: The Problem;” and Presentation by HALO Trust at a side event during the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2012. Notes by the CMC.

[10] UNMAS, “2012 Portfolio Search.”

[11] See, for example, US Department of the Treasury, “Zimbabwe Sanctions,” 26 March 2012.

[12] Interview with Col. Mkhululi Bhika Ncube, ZIMAC, in Geneva, 21 March 2012.

[13]22 ZNA De-Miners Graduate,” The Herald, 26 May 2012.

[16] Monitor analysis of three Extension Requests, Article 7 reports since 2007, and statements of Zimbabwe to intersessional Standing Committee meetings and Meetings of States Parties.

[17] Email from Col. Jardinous Garira, ZIMAC, 29 June 2007; Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 5 December 2006; Statement of Zimbabwe, Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Dead Sea, 19 November 2007; interview with Christopher Sibanda, ZIMAC, in Geneva, 24 June 2010; and Statement of Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 21 June 2011; and Third Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2012. Clearance for 2011 has been calculated on the basis that the March 2012 extension request referred to 21.3km2 of remaining hazardous area in the Sango-Border-Post-to-Crooks-Corner minefield, down from 22.9km2 a year earlier. All other amounts from the previous year were the same.

[18] Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 3 August 2010, pp. 16, 19; Decision of States Parties on Zimbabwe’s Extension Request, December 2010; and interview with Col. Mkhululi Bhika Ncube, ZIMAC, in Geneva, 23 June 2011.

[19] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Helen Gray, Programme Manager, HALO, Maputo, 4 May 2011.

[20] Email from Tom Dibb, Project Manager, HALO, 18 June 2011.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Presentation by HALO Trust at a side event during the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2012. Notes by the CMC.

[23] Ibid.

[25] Ibid., p. 21.

[26] Email from Col. Mkhululi Bhika Ncube, ZIMAC, 21 June 2011.

[27] John Manzong, “Five Injured in De-Mining Activity in Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park,” The Herald, 19 April 2012.

[28] Statement of Zimbabwe, Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 2 December 2009.

[29] Statement of Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 June 2010.

[35] Article 7 Report, Form I, March 2012.

[38]Headmasters Teach Teachers,” The Herald, 27 April 2012.