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Country Reports
ZIMBABWE, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Zimbabwe signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 18 June 1998. The country was one of nine African states attending the October 1996 meeting in Canada to strategize as to how to reach an international ban treaty. Attended by 50 countries as full participants and 24 observer states, along with NGOs and international agencies, that historic meeting launched what became known as the Ottawa Process and gave the world, in little over a year, the Mine Ban Treaty. Also in October 1996, a group of concerned individuals, NGO workers, academics and journalists formed the Zimbabwean Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Zimbabwe also took pro-ban positions in international fora. On 10 December 1996, along with 155 other states, Zimbabwe voted in the UN General Assembly in favor of Resolution 51/453, which called for an international agreement to ban antipersonnel landmines. In 1997, as Chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Zimbabwe helped steer the Continental Resolution DOC CM/2009 (LXVI), which eventually coalesced the African position on a ban.[1] The country continued its commitment to the issue by working with like-minded states within the regional political and economic grouping of SADC.

The Defense Minister, Moven Mahachi on 15 May 1997 announced that Zimbabwe had banned antipersonnel landmines. He stated that:[2] “The Zimbabwean Armed Forces have never and will never use antipersonnel mines, be they ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’ in the future. Zimbabwe has not manufactured antipersonnel mines since 1980 and undertakes never to try and acquire the technology or capacity otherwise to do so in the future. The bulk of stocks of antipersonnel mines held presently will be destroyed within the next five years. Only a few will be retained for training purposes and public awareness campaigns, under the strict and centralized control of a specialized section of the Ministry of Defense. Zimbabwe will not allow the transfer of antipersonnel mines into, over or above its territory by any party and will itself not allow the transfer of mines within its territorial borders except for purposes of their destruction, for instructional purposes or in relation to demining operations.” With this unilateral ban, and its signature and ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty, the country has now demonstrated singular commitment to banning APMs at every level. The ban treaty has been incorporated within Zimbabwe’s domestic law, but it is unclear if that constitutes implementation legislation.

There have been allegations of use of mines by Zimbabwean forces operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the allegations have been vehemently denied by Zimbabwean officials, and no concrete evidence has been presented. (See below).


With South African technical assistance the Rhodesians developed their own landmine manufacturing capacity and began producing the Rhodesian RAP No.1 (nicknamed Carrot Mine) and RAP No.2 (nicknamed Adams Grenade). These Rhodesian mines were dangerous to handle and equally hazardous to produce. Carrot mines were produced by Cobrine Engineering, which was run by a United States citizen.[3] The production process was so dangerous that following a spate of accidents the Rhodesians closed the operation down and relied on supplies of landmines from South Africa in the last years of the war. The production of a Claymore type mine, the PloughShare was more successful.[4]

The PloughShare command-detonated mines continued to be produced by Zimbabwe Defense Industries (ZDI) after independence. According to the government, production stopped sometime between 1990 and 1993[5] “when the call to ban antipersonnel mines gathered momentum.”[6] Against persistent rumors that the country was continuing to produce mines, on 25 March 1997, the ZDI invited the Zimbabwe Campaign to Ban Landmines, foreign military attaches based in Harare and other diplomats for an on-site inspection at the ZDI factory in Domboshawa where they were also shown dismantled antipersonnel mines. Colonel Tshinga Dube told the visitors that ZDI had produced Claymore mines at the Toolmaking and Engineering factory in Bulawayo until 1991 but had stopped. Soon afterwards, the Minister of Defense, Moven Mahachi issued a comprehensive government position on the issue of landmines “to demonstrate support for the current international efforts and (register) revulsion towards the use of antipersonnel mines in any type of warfare.”[7]


Concrete evidence of any post-independence export of Zimbabwean antipersonnel mines is scarce. The Center for Defense Studies at the University of London reported in 1996 that Zimbabwe supplied landmines to the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA).[8] Also at Zimbabwe’s annual International Trade Fair in 1994 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwean manufactured landmines featured prominently among the products exhibited by the state-owned ZDI.[9] According to the U.S. Department of Defense Mines Facts CD-ROM Database, Zimbabwean PloughShare mines have been found in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia. RAP-1 mines have been found in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; and RAP-2s in Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. In addition to its mines inherited from Rhodesia and those produced domestically, Zimbabwe appears to have acquired mines from a number of other countries, including the Soviet Union, Italy, and Portugal. (See below).

The government in 1997 stated that: “Zimbabwe will not allow the transfer of antipersonnel mines into, over or above its territory by any other party and will itself not allow the transfer of mines within its territorial borders except for purposes of their destruction, for instructional purposes or in relation to demining operations.”[10]


The Minister of Defense in 1997 acknowledged that Zimbabwe had inherited Rhodesian stocks of the “PMD6 World War II type mines and its related technology.” He said, however, these mines had been destroyed during the sabotage at Inkomo barracks “carried out on 16 August 1981 and destroyed Z$50 million worth of weapons and ammunition.”[11]

In 1997, the government committed itself to destroy what antipersonnel mines it had in stock “within the next five (5) years, with only a few retained for training and public awareness purposes” to be managed “under the strict and centralized control of a specialized section of the Ministry of Defense.”[12] An Army official told Human Rights Watch (HRW) at that time that Zimbabwe had more than just PMD6 mines in its stockpile and that there were some 1,000 mines.[13] HRW was told that there were POMZ-2 and POMZ-2M from Russia, RAP No.1 and RAP No.2 left over from Rhodesia, Italian VS-50s, Portuguese M969s and Zimbabwean PloughShares (ZAPS) in the stockpile.[14]


Zimbabwe has deployed combat troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August 1998 in support of the government of Laurent Kabila. There are a number of allegations that Zimbabwe has laid landmines in DRC around Mbuji Maya and Cabinda. No concrete evidence has been presented. A number of Zimbabwean troops have fallen victim to landmines at the warfront in the DRC.[15] Contacted by Human Rights Watch, the Defense Advisor at the Zimbabwean High Commission in London, Lieutenant-Colonel Ezekiel Zabanyana said, “We do not use landmines in the DRC. This is improper. We are signatories to the Convention and we abide by our commitment to this Convention. This is emphatic.” When asked whether this meant that Zimbabwe refrained from the use of all mines, at home and abroad, the Lieutenant-Colonel replied, “No. That is correct.”[16]

As early as 1969 the possibility of nationalist use of landmine warfare within Rhodesia was discussed at length within Rhodesian military circles. The first mine incident targeted against the Rhodesian security forces was actually on Mozambican soil on 27 April 1971 at Mukumbura, killing one Rhodesian soldier. In July 1971, Rhodesian police uncovered a number of crates of weapons in Salisbury, including six antipersonnel mines. The weapons were, according to one author, to have been distributed to secret caches across the country in preparation for increased nationalist operations.[17] The first incident reported on Rhodesian soil followed soon afterwards, in August 1972. From then on the number of landmine incidents steadily increased.

ZANLA guerrillas favored using Chinese-made TM57s, unmarked TM46 and TMH46s (with an anti-handling device) and wooden TMD-B mines. POMZ antipersonnel mines were also used.[18] ZANLA's strategy was to restrict mobility by liberally mining roads and protecting approaches to bases. By 1974 the Rhodesian security forces admitted that insurgent landmine warfare was exacting “a heavy toll on vehicles and lives” and that fifty-seven civilians had been killed, thirty-four of them Africans.[19]

From December 1972 until January 1980, when the war ended, there would be 2,405 incidents involving vehicles detonating nationalist planted mines, resulting in 632 dead and 4,410 injured. By 1979 landmine incidents increased dramatically by 234 per cent, a reflection of the spread of the war.[20]

In the 1983-1987 conflict in Matebeleland, ZAPU dissidents received from South African-linked sources forty-seven TM57 Russian anti-vehicle mines between April and November 1983; at least one was laid in Western Matebeleland that year. In December 1983, Zimbabwean military officials, with intelligence gleaned from ZAPU dissidents retrieved several ZAPU dissident caches hidden in Botswana including “a variety of mines.”[21] For the rest of the Matebeleland crisis the dissident groups were poorly armed, mostly restricted to using AK-47s, but they did also use improvised mine-like devices in some of their operations.[22]

Incursions into Zimbabwe along the Eastern Highlands by Mozambique's Renamo rebels saw the renewed use of landmines on Zimbabwean soil. Incursions began in June 1987 and continued until December 1990. Several mine incidents in this period were probably due to Renamo action. The only one to attract international attention was the maiming and killing of British tourist, David Pearson, in 1989 while on a family holiday at the Chimanimani National Park on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. Although the Zimbabwean authorities described this as a “freak accident,” there were other mine incidents in the area before, including one in which one person was killed. Information about mine incidents during this period was suppressed by local residents, who were fearful of reprisals by the security forces.[23] The Zimbabwean authorities also downplayed this incident because of fear that it would discourage tourism to Zimbabwe, a lucrative source of foreign exchange.

In October 1995, police detained William Nhamakonha in connection with an alleged conspiracy to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. According to police, Nhamakonha was a member of a shadowy Zimbabwean dissident group, the "Chimwenjes" and was found to be in possession of weapons including a landmine.[24]

In addition to the recent deployment of troops in the DRC, Zimbabwe deployed combat troops, in Mozambique between 1985 and 1992. In the war against Renamo in Mozambique in the 1980s, Renamo alleges that Zimbabwean troops used landmines against it. This can not be confirmed, but research has shown that in at least one incident mines were used against orders and those responsible were disciplined.[25]

Landmine Problem

The Rhodesians boasted that by 1979 their border minefields were the “Second Largest Man-Made Obstacle in the World,” after the Great Wall of China.[26] Whatever the truth of this claim, these border minefields still contain from one to three million mines and continue to take human, livestock and game victims, nineteen years after the war ended. Short of soldiers, the Rhodesians felt that a mined border would address both the manpower shortage as well as the intensifying military threat.[27]

Zimbabwe’s landmines problem is well-known and documented. The government has confirmed that minefield plans were handed over by the Rhodesian military at independence in 1980.[28] Mine-Tech conducted an E.U.-financed study of the border minefields in 1994 and 1995 with the objective of defining the precise location and nature of the minefields, assessing their socio-economic impact and preparing a costed and prioritized proposal for clearance. According to the survey, Zimbabwe is host to an estimated 1.5 to 1.8 million antipersonnel mines, and some ten thousand PloughShares (PS) and Claymores littering over 8,566 sq. km. These remain from an estimated 2,528,800 APMs and 76,600 PloughShares laid between 1974 and 1980. The Mine-Tech survey also concluded that over ninety percent of the minefields’ protective fencing had been removed by local people to use as materials around small patches of vegetable gardens or in the construction of cattle pens. These “open minefields” were a health hazard to those living nearby.

The EU used the results of this survey as the basis to draw up its terms of reference for the tendering to clear the Mukumbura Minefield.[29] However field work by Martin Rupiya of the ZCBL has identified an undocumented minefield tucked inside Kariba town.[30] One wonders how many more of these there are.

The first Rhodesian minefield to be laid was a hectare of 3,000 homemade PMD box mines around the Kariba Power Station. It was completed on 11 November 1963, a few weeks prior to the formal distribution of federal assets at the Victoria Falls Butler Conference in December 1963. The minefield was aimed at hindering any Zambian post-Federal efforts towards gaining control of the jointly owned installations.[31]

Only in 1973 with increasing nationalist infiltration did the Rhodesian authorities consider building new minefields. The decision was finally made in 1974 to build a minefield along the northeastern border, coupled with the creation of a “no-go” area. Several types of minefields were examined by the Rhodesians, before a down-graded Israeli system was chosen. Some Rh$10 million was approved for the minefields, which would include thousands of mostly Portuguese type M969 antipersonnel mines. The planned density of the minefield was three blast mines per meter or 5,500 per kilometer. Later other mines were put into the fields, including South African R2M1 and R2M2 and Italian VS50 antipersonnel mines. Laying mines in these fields began in May 1974 and continued to 1979.[32]

The early border minefields were constructed in the conventional manner, demarcated on both sides by security fencing with prominently displayed warning signs. Later the fence on the hostile side was taken down and maintenance and care of the minefields declined as the war progressed. Mine laying became uncontrolled and unrecorded and booby trapping flourished. They also increasingly included Claymores and PloughShares.[33] By independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had seven minefields measuring 766 km located along its borders with Zambia and Mozambique. An estimated 2. 2 million antipersonnel blast mines and 22,000 PloughShares were sowed.[34] These minefields were the Msengedzi, Mukumbura, Rushinga, Nyamapanda to Ruenya Minefield, stretching for 359 km constructed from 1974 and took two years to complete. The 50 km Sheba/Stapleford Forest to Mutare south; the 4 km Burma Valley-Junction Gate Minefield; the 72 km Junction Gate to Muzite Mission and the 61 km Malvernia (Songo) to Crooks Corner (Pafuri) Beit-ridge minefields. The last minefield to be constructed was the 220 km Kazungula, Victoria Falls, Deka to Mlibizi obstacle.[35]

Mine Action Funding

Since 1980, the Zimbabwean government has regarded landmines as both a developmental and security issue. In August 1980, then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe announced in parliament that minefields covered an area of 2,500 square kilometers along 70 kilometers of Zimbabwe's border and that a group of soldiers had been assigned to remove the mines as a matter of urgency.[36]

In 1981, the minefields have been acknowledged as “devastating (culminating in) the serious breakdown in animal disease control with outbreaks of tick-bone and foot and mouth occurring in the border regions. An estimated one million cattle were affected and of this sum over thirty-per cent were from the Tribal Trust Lands.”[37] In the ZIMCORD Conference on Reconstruction, Z$1.3 million, spread over the three years of 1980-83 was sought to compliment local funding for mine clearance - to provide for salaries, fuel and maintenance of equipment through the Army Engineers Corp.[38]

The extent and nature of the problem was seriously under-estimated in 1981. The Government believed that clearing of the minefields had to be done by military engineers with specialized expertise using special equipment and that it could be done in three years. In areas not scheduled for immediate clearance the government said it would replace the lost protective fencing to prevent accidents and recover for resettlement schemes when it was no longer needed.[39]

Britain provided Z$461,000 and the United States Z$850,000 for mine clearance. The then Federal Republic of Germany donated clearance equipment and by late 1982, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Engineers began official clearance operations. Army operations have since continued with funding from the government. By 1984, the U.S. had discontinued most of its aid due to the lack of government money for demining.[40]

Government funding has continued to be a problem. In an address to parliament on 6 May 1998, the Minister of Defense, Moven Mahachi reported that for the financial year ending in December 1998, only Z$155,000 (Z$38 for US$1) was received from a total bid of $2 million dollars for National Mine Clearance. This allocation was barely enough to meet procurement of oils and lubricants for the repair and maintenance of equipment. The National Mine Clearance Committee based on previous deployments had also quantified costs of clearance. This showed that nearly $750,000 was required to clear 20 km (twenty) at 1997 prices. Not only have the costs predictably risen in the interim but the Zimbabwe dollar depreciated by over 60 per cent against major currencies since August 1998. This has made the cost of clearance almost impossible to contemplate and make provision for from local resources. The Minister of Defense publicly called for Members of Parliament and other well wishers to solicit donor assistance to eradicate the landmines menace.

The European Union, in January 1996, agreed to fund an ECU 10 million program to clear the Mukumbura minefield, the Cahorra-Bassa to Twenya river minefield, a length of 335 kilometers. Mukumbura has been made a priority by the Zimbabwean government because of the need of the local population to gain access to water resources and reclaim land in the area, but also because the Rhodesian minefield did not follow the border, making a new de facto border. There is also illegal gold prospecting in the area.[41]

A German firm KOCH MINE-SAFE registered under the Company CLAMA Enterprises won the tender in 1998. KOCH-MUNITIOSBERGUNGS claims it can complete the contract in eighteen months. GESELLSCHAFE (UXO) Ordnance Mine Clearance Company is in partnership with the ex-combatants offering them technical assistance and the Zimbabwean based firm Rom-Tec is also involved.[42] A 500,000 ECU Quality Assessor contract was awarded to a British based firm BACTEC International Limited.

In July 1998, the U.S. military, under the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program, started a U.S.$2 million project providing several advisors and equipment for ZNA mine clearance at Victoria Falls. In March 1999, a team of U.S. Army officers arrived to train the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) in mine clearance, and the team made a donation of U.S. $756,000 to purchase clearance equipment for the ZNA.[43]

Mine Awareness

Little has been done to warn border communities about the dangers of landmines. To prevent continued mine accidents in the interim, some police and Defense officials claim to be carrying out local mine awareness campaigns in their border regions. There is need of a sustained mine awareness program.

Mine Clearance

A National Mine Clearance Committee was formed in 1981 to coordinate and manage mine clearing operations, with representatives from interested ministries and chaired by the Commander of Engineers. Its duty was to prioritize projects and administer funds allocated to the program. But no policy document was ever drawn up and the committee ceased to operate in December 1985. From then on the Zimbabwean army decided on priorities for mine clearance.[44] Between 1980 and 1995 the ZNA cleared sixteen areas of landmines.[45]

These initial mine clearance priorities were primarily areas of economic and infrastructural interest. The border minefields have generally not been a government priority due to scarce resources and political commitments elsewhere, the conflict in Matebeleland, and later the ZNA's involvement in Mozambique. The Mozambican border minefields were also seen until 1992 as a useful barrier against Renamo rebel incursions, although they had been easily breached during Zimbabwe's nationalist struggle.

Although attempts began in 1983 to clear the ninety-seven kilometer minefield beginning at Victoria Falls and proceeding eastward along Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia, this is still far from completion. Since 1983, the Army’s National Army Corp of Engineers has cleared only some 10 per cent of Zimbabwe’s minefields. They have destroyed only about 12,643 mines.[46] During initial mine clearing efforts in 1983 Zimbabwe converted British commercial tractors and bulldozers for the mechanized clearance of the minefields. Although Zimbabwe produces a mine detector, the NMD-78, most of its equipment dates from pre-independence. Hand-held clearance techniques have also been used by the army.

By the early 1990s, only "economic priority zones" were being cleared, with financial assistance from the U.S. government. Much of the heavy mine clearing equipment given to Zimbabwe shortly after independence was no longer working because of a lack of spare parts and maintenance problems. In 1996 the U.S. military provided a grant of US$500,000 for the training of Zimbabwe National Army personnel in mine clearance techniques and for the rehabilitation of some mechanical clearance equipment.[47]

As a result of the EU survey, the EU announced in January 1996 that it would donate approximately US$10 million for mine-clearance in north-eastern Zimbabwe.[48] In February 1996, the government announced that they expected the EU de-mining contract to begin operations in 1997. After inaction for one year, government officials said in January 1997 that tenders would be accepted soon. In February, it was announced that work would begin in mid-1997, although tendering had not yet been done. In October 1997, the government's tendering process was about to begin and would last ab out four months. Only then would the decision-making process commence, and work should begin some time in 1998.

In April 1998, a Zimbabwean government official announced that the contract had been awarded to a German firm - one of the few eligible bids.[49] It was only two months later that the award was officially announced. In December 1998, KOCH MINE-SAFE had just begun deploying its trained members onto the Mukumbura Minefield. This follows a three-month training period for deminers. Six teams were trained, each comprising fifty men, to begin operations from three sites at Chidodo, Musengezi and Nyamapanda.[50]

In addition to the EU program, the United States in 1998 began assisting mine clearance at Victoria Falls under the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Operations. The U.S. provided two advisors, equipment and funding assistance. According to the Zimbabwean government US$2 million has been allocated to the Victoria Falls project.[51] Between July and October 1998 the program claims to have cleared 166,000 sq. meters.[52] The project began in an area where clearance had been attempted three times since independence, by army shooting at the mines, by burning the undergrowth and by bulldozing. Bulldozers and a tractor turned into a bulldozer have been used in this project which by December 1998 had found only two inoperable M 972 mines, mistakenly identified as R2M2s.

The use of these bulldozers has been slowly made worse by unusually heavy rains In early 1999 the area around Victoria Falls was declared clear and the teams set to move out to the rural areas of Deka, Dete, Mlibizi and Binga. The quality and standards of this clearance operation have been questioned in an independent inspection. In a confidential report on “Demining incidents in southern Africa” for the U.S. government’s CECC M NVESD, the report concludes that “while it may be true that those required by humanitarian demining this effort is in peace time clearance by personnel supposedly trained by the U.S. I have never personally seen such a poorly organized apparently random clearance undertaken in such a careless and unprofessional manner.” [53] The U.S. trainers are not allowed into the minefield although it is the training ground and those inspecting the program found deminers not using protective gear, cutting safety procedures and using techniques that are not up to humanitarian standards. As this is a military to military program there is no outside independent quality assessment.

With the 359-km Mukumbura and the 220-km Victoria Falls Minefields having found sponsor, this has left five minefields measuring 187-km still waiting urgent attention.[54] The government hopes that international donors will funds clearance operations in the remaining five minefields.

Zimbabwean Mine Clearance Firms


Founded in 1992, Mine-Tech is a division of Stongman Engineering Ltd, based in Harare. The company is directed by Col. (Rtd) Lionel Dyck, a former commander of Zimbabwe Special Forces who retired from the army in 1990, and employs demobilized ZNA military personnel. Mine-Tech conducted the E.U.-financed study of the border minefields in 1994 and 1995 with the objective of defining the precise location and nature of the minefields. In 1995 and 1996 Mine-Tech engaged in several mine clearance contracts for local commercial firms. Mine-Tech also conducted mine survey, awareness and clearance in Mozambique, Somaliland and Bosnia. The company has not been without controversy, blamed for “double-dipping” because its management are former Rhodesian soldiers, and also accused of racism in its staff management.[55] It also protested at not being awarded the border minefield contract, having been disqualified because it had conducted the original survey.[56]


This is a small Harare-based firm. It has been trying to develop a mine resistant vehicle, the Pookie and claims to have developed a detector for non-metallic mines. It has been sub-contracted by Koch-Mine Safe. It has tried to undermine Special Clearance Services in Mozambique.[57]

Special Clearance Services

Special Clearance Services is run by Benrie Auditorie out of Harare. It has conducted a number of small commercial clearance contracts in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.[58]

Security Devices

This firm, based at Msasa, Harare, has since 1997 manufactured humanitarian demining equipment, particularly an early design of AVS/NVESD apron and visor and genital protection. This production has been assisted by a charitable grant aimed at getting humanitarian demining equipment to be manufactured near to the place of use. The U.S. Army is one of the customers, issuing visors, aprons and genital protectors to the ZNA clearing mines at Victoria Falls. They also purchased visors and aprons for the Namibian training program. Mine-Tech, MgM in Angola and HI in Mozambique also use the visors.

Reconstruction & development of cleared areas

The resettlement of people into areas that have been cleared of landmines or from areas that are contaminated have been marked by official and unofficial complacency, a lack of planned action or a chaotic settlement strategy. Above Pafuri, in the southeast of the country, the Dumisa and Chinotera communities were moved in the war and mines were planted around the areas vacated. This included the single watering point for both humans and animals in the normally parched zone. At independence, the communities returned to their traditional land now infested with mines. They have since become squatters on the grazing fields of the Mphahle, a situation that has evolved into constant and bitter fights amongst the community.

The current United States Army and Zimbabwe Engineer Corps initiative in clearing the Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield will benefit the resort town of Victoria Falls. Owing to increasing tourism, at least two major hotels are planned to be opened in the next few years. This has created employment downstream in the services and banking sectors with most of the workers residing in the Chinotimba African Township. The administrative council has so far failed to expand housing units and other facilities at the edges of the Town because of the minefield. Some houses built are barely seven yards from the edge of the minefield. The sewerage works had also been hemmed in with little prospect of expansion until the mines had been lifted.

The oldest minefield in the country, around the Kariba Power Station, has also restricted plans to expand working space. On at least two occasions, the Company, CAPCO has had to call in the Army Engineers to clear certain patches in order to add further buildings in order to cope with the increase in hydro-electric output.

Landmine Casualties

Since independence in 1980 nearly 13,000 landmine incidents had been recorded countrywide. However, the independent survey by Mine-Tech and our own fieldwork has revealed that the national statistics are understated by as much as forty percent. Police Stations and major hospitals are on average one hundred kilometers from most of the border areas.

Simply reporting landmine incidents to the authorities was until recently problematic for people living in border areas. Ernest Katoma from Dendera village, a few hundred meters from the Mozambican border, told a Zimbabwean magazine in 1994:[59] People are afraid they will be locked up if they report a landmine incident to the Police. During the war in Mozambique, villagers would be interrogated by the Zimbabwean security forces if such incidents were reported to them because they were afraid people were collaborating with Renamo.

Since the war ended in Mozambique in October 1992, villagers living on the border remain ambivalent about reporting landmine incidents. They fear that the police will suspect them of being, or helping, border jumpers from Mozambique, BJs as they are commonly known.

From the government's statistics, Mine-Tech Survey and our own fieldwork, it is estimated that 70 people have been killed while over 400 have been maimed by the landmines. Some of the victims residing near the more active minefields have had several near escapes. Others had not been so lucky.[60] These incidents are far from urban areas and as they do not impact on the elite community are rarely captured in the news.[61] Zimbabweans continue to be landmine victims. On 29 January 1999, two children walking on a path to school in the Chimoyi area adjacent to the Mukumbura minefield —one stepped on a mine which injured the child and the one following behind.[62]

Landmine Survivor Assistance

Although social service support for anyone seeking medical assistance is available subject to passing a stringent and some would say humiliating means testing, no special funds have been set aside for landmine victims. The state provides up to fifteen per cent of medical costs to victims of mines. The individual meets the rest of the cost. An artificial arm is retailed at Z$15,000 while a foot is Z$ 8,000. The ICRC ran a rehabilitation program in Zimbabwe from 1985 to 1990 during which 1,400 new prostheses were manufactured. This program was then handed over to the Ministry of Health.[63]

Researchers have found numerous cases of victims using sticks as limping aids or simply hobbling about without artificial limbs because the price of them is beyond their reach. Local production of limbs is either through a government prosthetics center or out-contracted to the major private company in Bulawayo. The period from fitting to delivery was shortened by a donor funded program which catered for Mozambican refugees in the Mazoe River Bridge and Chambuta designated locations but this ended in 1993 after the general repatriation of Mozambican refugees.

Human beings are not the only victims. Over 15,000 cattle have also perished, especially in the Chisumbanje, Mwenezi area, a major cattle rearing zone in the country. In the socio-economic environment of southern Africa, cattle represent a value that cannot be easily quantified. Not only are these family assets to be passed down from generation to generation but they are also viewed as a bank, of ceremonial value used to bind marriages, funerals, celebrating births, graduations or appeasing spirits. In the day-to-day use, these provide draught power facilitating the movement of heavy loads and other household materials as well as readily available manure.

In the “open minefields” adjacent Game Parks, unaccountable numbers of game have also detonated antipersonnel mines. Some of the wounded beasts then wandered with half-destroyed feet around the villages until put down by wardens from the National Parks and Wild Life. Tourist groups have witnessed landmine wounded animals, as most of these incidents are common around the Hwange National Park near Victoria Falls and the Gona Re Zhou northeast of Beit-Bridge. The mines in and around the Game Parks pose a serious threat to the tourist industry.

Commercial acreage of timber has also not been able to be harvested after maturing in the Eastern Highlands due to landmines. Zimbabwe has losing in excess of Z$5 million a year in lost earnings from the timber located inside the minefield.

Economic activity between communities residing on both sides of the borders of Mozambique and Zimbabwe have also been impacted by landmines. The only permanent solution is to clear the mines and allow the emergence of healthy and mutually reinforcing social and economic relations on the borders between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean minefields are known breeding grounds of Tse-Tse fly which carries Trypanosomiasis (better known as sleeping sickness). They also provide sanctuary for large numbers of grain ravaging quela birds and ravenous locusts. Since the establishment of the landmine obstacle in 1974, Rhodesia abandoned all pretense of paying attention to regional disease control. After independence in 1980 the resumption of these efforts has been difficult because of the threat these mines posed to the teams. Temporary and inadequate measures have been instituted in the form of opening access corridors but this has not been enough to contain the hazard. The result has been an unquantifiable economic loss of cattle, outbreaks of Newcastle disease affecting fowl and Foot and Mouth disease in sheep, goats and cattle. Requiring the northeastern regions of Zimbabwe to be placed under quarantine have occurred with disturbing frequency. Zimbabwe has experienced a number of export bans lasting several months to export meat to the lucrative European market. In all instances of outbreaks, the time and effort spent in regaining lost ground before production and exports are resumed can only be permanently eliminated if the minefields are all cleared.


[1]“Brief by Minister of Defense to the House on the Convention Prohibiting the Production, Use, Stockpiling and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and their Destruction and Recommending Ratification,” Debates in Parliament, March 1998.

[2]Press Statement on Zimbabwe Government Policy on Antipersonnel Landmines, 15 May 1997.

[3]Human Rights Watch Arms Project, Still Killing: Landmines in Southern Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997), p. 158.

[4]Col. T.J. Dube, “4th International NGO Conference on Landmines: Toward a Mine Free Southern Africa,” Maputo, 26 February 1997; see also, . Martin Rupiah, “A Review of Mine-Warfare during Zimbabwe’s War of Independence: November 1963 - April 1980,” ICRC/OAU Regional Seminar, “Antipersonnel Land-Mines: What Future for Southern Africa,” Harare, 20 to 23 April 1997, p. 9.

[5]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, p.165.

[6]Press Statement Zimbabwean Government Policy on Antipersonnel Landmines, Defense Headquarters Conference Room, 4 May 1997.


[8]Chris Smith (Ed.), The Military Utility of Landmines...? (London: Center for Defense Studies, King’s College, #University of London, 1996), p.13.

[9]Fernando Gonçalves, “Landmines: Seeds of Death,” Southern Africa Political and Economic Monthly, Harare, February 1996.

[10]Government Press Statement, 4 May 1997.

[11]Paul Moorcraft, African Nemesis War and Revolution in Southern Africa 1945-2010 (London: Brassey’s, 1994), p.302.

[12]Government Press Statement, 4 May 1997.

[13]Col. Nyikayaramba of the ZNA, Harare, 23 April 1997.

[14]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, p.166.

[15]Herald, Harare, 21 December 1998.

[16]Telephone interview, London, 19 March, 1999.

[17]Michael Morris, Armed Conflict in Southern Africa (Cape Town: Jeremy Spence, 1974) p.52.

[18]The Zimbabwe News, vol.10, no.5, Sep-Oct 1978, (Maputo: Department of Information and Publicity, ZANU Headquarters) pp.15-17.

[19]Peter Swift, Taming the Landmine, (Alberton: Galago Books, 1986), pp.46-47.

[20]Ibid, p.84.

[21]Phyllis Johnson and David Martin, “Zimbabwe: Apartheid's Dilemma,” in P. Johnson and D. Martin (eds.), Destructive Engagement: Southern Africa at War (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1986), pp.58-60.

[22]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, p.162.

[23]Daily Telegraph, (London), 10 May 1995. Pearson died after an eighteen hour delay in treating him; the Zimbabwean authorities refused to send a helicopter, fearing the presence of other antipersonnel mines.

[24]AIM, (Maputo), 9 October 1995.

[25]Human Rights Watch Arms Project, Landmines in Mozambique (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994).

[26]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, pp.152-176.

[27]Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development, Salisbury, 23 to 27 March 1981 (Salisbury: Government Printer, 1981) p.31, para.50; Jakkie Cilliers, Counter Insurgency in Rhodesia (London: Croom-Helm, 1985, pp.104-105, 115.

[28]Herald, (Harare), 7 October 1984 citing comments by the commander of ZNA Engineers Squadron.

[29]Project No.7 ACP ZIM 068 EDF VII (ZIM 7004/000) Minefield Clearance in N.E. Zimbabwe Financing Agreement between The Commission of the European Communities and the Republic of Zimbabwe, December 1995.

[30]Martin Rupiya, Landmines in Zimbabwe: a deadly legacy (Harare: SAPES, 1998).

[31]Martin Rupiah “A Historical Study of Land-Mines in Zimbabwe, 1963-1995,” in, Zambezia , vol .XXII, no1 (1995), pp 45-55.


[33]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, p.159.

[34]Col. T.J. Dube, “National Implementation: De-mining in Zimbabwe,” paper presented at Towards Cost Effective De-Mining: An Evaluation of Experiences and Technique conference, South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg, 22-23 April 1998.

[35]Martin Rupiah, “A historical Study,” pp.45-55.

[36]ZNBC, 'This Week in Parliament.' 0410 gmt, August 16, 1980.

[37]ZIMCORD., p.10.

[38]Ibid., p.21.

[39]Ibid., p.32.

[40]U.S. Department of State. Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis (Washington DC: US Department of State, 1994) p.17.

[41]Human Rights Watch, Still Killing, p.173.

[42]Telephone interview with Makova, one of the directors running operations and a German representative, Harare, November 1998.

[43]SAPA News agency, 31 March 1999.

[44]Col. TJ Dube, “National Implementation: De-mining in Zimbabwe.”




[48]Laurie Boulden and Martin Edmonds, The Politics of De-Mining: Mine Clearance in Southern Africa (Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs, 1999) p. 123.


[50]Interviews conducted with Managing Director Makova, Harare, 23 and 25 November 1998.

[51]Debates in Parliament, Fourth Session of the Fourth Parliament, 6 May 1998, Minister of Defense response to Baloyi, MP Chiredzi South.

[52]All Africa News Agency, 20 October 1998.

[53]CECCM NVESD, 'Demining Incidents in Southern Africa,' January 1999.

[54]Herald, (Harare), 4 November 1992.

[55]Zimbabwe Mirror, (Harare), 5-11 June, 1998.

[56]Financial Gazette, (Harare), 8 October , 1998.

[57]Laurie Boulden and Martin Edmonds, The Politics of De-mining, p.90.

[58]Ibid for details about its work in Mozambique.

[59]George Mangwiro, "The Killing Fields of Mudzi," Horizon, August 1994.


[61]Casualties have continued to be experienced by Zimbabwean forces stepping on landmines while deployed on Peacekeeping Operations in Somalia, Angola and recently during military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

[62]Police Chief report quoted as Radio One news item at 11.00 gmt, 1 February 1999.

[63]International Committee of the Red Cross, ‘Landmines in Africa,’ ICRC, May 1997.