+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
ZIMBABWE , Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: Major mine clearance operations started in March 1999. After a slow, accident-plagued beginning, by mid-July 2000 a total of 3.8 million square meters of land had been cleared. Koch Mine-Safe deminers suffered twenty casualties between February 1999-July 2000. Zimbabwe has served as co-rapporteur of the SCE on General Status and Operation of the Convention. Delays in passage of Zimbabwe’s pending Mine Ban Treaty implementation bill have held up the start of AP mine stockpile destruction. There continue to be allegations of use of AP mines by Zimbabwean troops in the DRC.

Mine Ban Policy

Zimbabwe signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 18 June 1998. It participated in the First Meeting of State Parties in Maputo in May 1999, with the Deputy Foreign Minister leading the delegation. It its statement to the Meeting, Zimbabwe reaffirmed its commitment to the AP mine ban, stating that it was “unequivocally committed both to implementing its own obligations under the convention and to cooperating with others in finding a lasting solution to the problem.”[1]

At the FMSP, Zimbabwe was nominated to serve as co-rapporteur (with Belgium) of the newly created Standing Committee of Experts on the General Status and Operations of the Convention. After the Second Meeting of States Parties in September 2000, it will become co-chair of this important body. It has also attended meetings on victim assistance and mine clearance.

The government submitted its first report as required under Article 7 on 11 January 2000, covering the period from August 1999-January 2000.[2] It reported that implementation legislation, the “Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Bill, 1999” is “awaiting clearance from the Law Officers before it is enacted to effectively incorporate the provisions of the Treaty into Zimbabwe’s domestic laws.”[3] The delay in passage of this legislation, according to officials, has placed limitations on their actions to fully comply with the treaty, particularly with regard to stockpile destruction.[4]

Zimbabwe voted in favor of UNGA Resolution 54/54B supporting the MBT in December 1999. It is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been a noted supporter or opponent of efforts to begin negotiations on a mine export ban there.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Zimbabwe was not a significant past producer or exporter of landmines.[5] Its Article 7 report states that it has a stockpile of 4,792 mines: 446 South African R2M2 AP mines inherited from the Rhodesian regime and 4,346 PMD-6 mines, from the former Eastern Bloc. There have been reports that Zimbabwe stockpiled other mine types.[6]

There is contradictory information in the report on the number of mines that the army will retain for training. Forms B (on current stockpiles) and G (on planned destruction) indicate that 700 AP mines will be retained: 500 PMD-6 and 200 R2M2). But Form D (on mines retained for training) indicates 946 mines will be kept, including all 446 of R2M2 mines.[7]

The destruction of the 3,846 AP mines was scheduled to be completed in 2000, in two phases. During the first six months, 3,000 type PMD-6 mines were scheduled to be destroyed, and during next six months the remaining 846 PMD-6 as well as the 246 R2M2s would have been destroyed.[8] But this plan has not been implemented because the implementation legislation has not been passed.

There has been no response to attempts by NGOs to solicit an invitation to monitor the destruction.[9]


There is concern regarding the involvement of Zimbabwean troops in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in support of the government of Laurent Kabila. Landmine Monitor 1999 reported that there had been a number of unsubstantiated allegations of use of antipersonnel mines in that conflict by Zimbabwe, which the government vigorously denied.[10] More recently, according to one source, there were accounts of Zimbabwean troops planting defensive minefields around Mbuji Maya when they feared that city would be captured by rebels in 1999.[11] Landmine Monitor has not seen these accounts and cannot verify them. In June 2000, the Namibia Campaign to Ban Landmines was informed by relatives that two Namibian soldiers died in the DRC when they stepped on “friendly” antipersonnel mines allegedly planted by Zimbabwean soldiers.

While there is no concrete evidence of use of AP mines by Zimbabwean forces, it is clear that antipersonnel mines have been and continue to be used in the DRC conflict, likely by DRC government forces and possibly by others aligned with them.[12] (See Landmine Monitor report on DRC).

The so-called SADC Allies, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, are involved in the fighting. Angola has publicly admitted to new use of AP mines in the war against UNITA in its own country. The ICBL has expressed concern that a Mine Ban Treaty State Party, such as Zimbabwe, may be violating the treaty by virtue of participating in a joint military operation with another nation, such as the DRC or Angola, that uses antipersonnel mines in that operation. Under Article 1 of the Mine Ban Treaty, a State Party may not “under any circumstance...assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity that is prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.”

Zimbabwe should make clear the nature of its support for foreign forces that may be using antipersonnel mines, and make clear its views with regard to the legality under the Mine Ban Treaty of its joint military operations with the DRC and Angola. As a party to the treaty, Zimbabwe should state categorically that it will not participate in joint operations with any force that uses antipersonnel mines.

Landmine Problem/Survey and Assessment

Since the end of the liberation struggle in 1980, Zimbabwe has lived with a legacy of seven minefields along its borders with Zambia and Mozambique. Maps of the minefields are in the possession of the current government. A series of validation exercises have been undertaken since 1980 that have confirmed the general patterns and type of AP mines laid.[13] The minefields and the priority that they have been given for clearance purposes are indicated below:

Table 1.

Stapleford Forest-Mutare-Vumba Mts.
Burma Valley
Junction Gate-Muzite Mission-Jersey
Malvenia-Crooks Corner-Limpopo
Victoria Falls to Mlibizi
Kariba Power Station

[15] Mine Tech did not conduct a Level 1 or Level 2 survey, and did not visit or “survey” the entire length of the minefields, but did complete the work and handed over a final report on schedule.[16] While it contains some significant inaccuracies, the report does present a broad-brush description of the minefields, and includes maps and diagrams and broad assessment of likely problems in their clearance.

The survey found that Zimbabwe has an estimated 1.5 million AP mines, 10,000 Ploughshare mines and an unknown number of UXO in the ground. These are still assumed to be within the general area of the seven border minefields with the odd mine washed out by floods into the hinterland. (Floods from Cyclone Elaine have been particularly heavy in the Eastern Highlands bordering Mozambique, affecting minefields in areas 1-5.)

The cordon-sanitaire minefields consist of a 25m wide strip of ground laid with three rows of blast antipersonnel mines at a density of around 5,500 mines per kilometer, this minefield was fenced on both sides by a game fence of three strands of steel wire supported on thin steel posts set in concrete. Also attached to the fence was an intruder alarm system linked to control points, which fed information to patrol teams. By 1997 virtually all this fencing had been removed by local people or had disintegrated. Mines in the cordon were the South African R2M2 and the Portuguese M969.[17] The Italian VS-50 was also laid. The cordon-sanitaire minefield is backed for most of its length by a second “Ploughshare” minefield containing three rows of large fragmentation mines mounted on steel pickets one meter above the ground. The fragmentation mines are laid with 30 meter-long tripwires and each mine is protected by three blast mines (see diagram). The mine density in this minefield is around 100 fragmentation mines and 300 buried blast mines per kilometer. In some areas, the minefield has been found to run into Mozambique for stretches up to 8 km in length.

In November 1999, UNMAS and UNDP’s resident representative conducted an assessment mission of the problem in the country.[18] In its Joint Assessment Mission Report issued in February 2000, it was noted that political attention is not focused on eradicating mines in Zimbabwe. Although the country possesses a credible local capacity for mine clearance, there is not a national mine clearance plan, and it lacks a body with a mandate to articulate and manage mine action. Consequently, current clearance activity is a result of ad-hoc and sometimes donor-driven initiatives without consultations with the affected people or groups otherwise associated with the mine problem. The assessment noted that the government appears to have “no intention of creating” a national mine clearance coordinating body,[19] nor has the government been active in coordinating its landmine problem within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mine Clearance

Currently, one army engineer platoon of the Zimbabwe National Army and Koch Mine-Safe, a commercial demining company, carry out mine clearance operations in the country. In 1999, the army engineer platoon of 200 soldiers, funded by the US, cleared 6,000 AP mines in Area Six from a twenty-six kilometer tract that has since been handed over to the Victoria Falls town council.[20] However, officials admit that the area cleared is a small percentage of the problem and predict that at this rate of about 8,000 square meters per day when adequate logistical support is available,[21] it would take “ten years to complete the work.”[22] Already, the platoon is operating on a shoestring budget of Z$11 million (US$285,714).[23] The U.S. government donated $1.743 million to mine action in Zimbabwe in 1999 and has a further allocation of US$1.006 million for FY2000. The U.S. has also budgeted an estimated $1 million for FY 01.[24] Plans to create a second demining platoon in 2000 are under consideration.[25]

Clearance is also being carried out by Koch Mine-Safe, which won a European Development Fund supported contract to clear a top-priority, 359 kilometer-long minefield in northeastern Zimbabwe on the border with Mozambique.[26] The contract tender, issued in late 1997, called for the clearance of ten million square meters over the length of the minefield, to be completed within eighteen months and at a fixed price. Additionally, a contract for quality assurance of the clearance was given to a British company, Bac Tec.

Koch was to begin operations in October 1998, but due to problems in assembling teams[27] and logistics, they were not able to deploy personnel (three hundred staff, including their three self-supporting teams of fifty deminers each) until March 1999, already six months late. Under the Ministry of Defense contract, they are restricted to three working teams, and mechanical methods were to be allowed only if the land was checked by normal clearance methods as well and it could be ensured that environmental damage caused by mechanical clearance was minimal.

Following a number of early mine incidents, operations were halted to reassess procedures. Work recommenced in April/May 1999 and clearance moved slowly for four months. By the end of May, 0.25 percent of the ten million square meters of land had been cleared, already eight months into the contract. There were several contributing factors to the slow rate of clearance: a very high number of false signals;[28] the abnormally heavy summer rainfall of January and February 1999, which led to an outbreak of cholera and the closing of the site; and finally Koch had under-estimated the logistical difficulties of the operation. Also, it had not been anticipated that they would have to cut and build access roads to the minefield.

Koch’s operations were roundly criticized for what appeared to be an unacceptably high accident rate. Between March and June 1999 there were twelve incidents. Over half of the accidents occurred during excavation in the minefield, but the primary cause of a third of the accidents could be blamed on inadequate supervision, poor standard operating procedures (SOPs), or lax discipline, i.e.: “management error.” Notably serious injuries happened while handling mines during practice, partly because of using unsafe SOP.[29] A total of twenty people were injured in eighteen accidents between February 1999 and July 2000. Fourteen involved minor injuries. Two of the seriously injured died in the hospital, one from pneumonia contracted in recuperation. Following the visit of an EU consultant in May 1999 and the introduction of a manager from the Boskalis Group, safety and productivity improved greatly.

Soon after deployment in March 1999, Koch explored the potential for mechanical clearance and based on an environmental impact assessment which concluded that approximately one-third of the minefield was suitable for mechanical clearance, purchased a Veilhaben Mine Collector which went into operation in October 1999. Currently, two of Koch’s teams work as manual teams, mostly on the Ploughshare minefield, and the third team follows the mine collector.

In February 2000, seventeen months through the eighteen-month contract, Koch had cleared less than one-third of their contract area (2.6 million square meters from a total of 10 million square meters). With agreement from all parties, the EU and the Ministry of Defense extended the contract to February 2001.

On average (over both the cordon sanitarie and the Ploughshare minefields) Koch's teams are lifting and destroying one mine per fifty-eight square meters. In the cordon sanitaire minefield this broad average rises to one mine per twenty square meters, and the mechanical team working in the center of the cordon sanitaire clears one mine per twelve square meters on average; spot densities can be more than twice this figure. The mechanical team currently processes 20,000 square meters of ground per day; the following team covers 12,000-12,500 square meters per day and destroys over 1,000 mines per day.

Two things characterize the current clearance program: The very high density of mines and number of mines being cleared. In June 2000, Koch Mine Safe cleared 421,000 square meters. By mid-July the team had cleared a total of 3,809,281 square meters of land. No “missed mines” have been reported by BacTec who assess ten percent of land cleared.

Other Zimbabwean Mine Action Firms

In addition to Mine Safe there are a number of other Zimbabwe based companies offering mine action services.

Mine-Tech: Founded in 1992, Mine-Tech is based in Harare, and conducted the EU-financed study of the border minefields in 1994 and 1995. It has not cleared mines in Zimbabwe in 1999 and 2000 although it employs mostly retired Zimbabwean soldiers; it has conducted mine survey, awareness and clearance in Mozambique, Somaliland, and Bosnia.

Rom-Tech: This is a small Harare-based firm, which had been trying to develop a mine resistant vehicle, the Pookie. It has been sub-contracted by Koch to assist in clearance of the border minefields.

Special Clearance Services: Special Clearance Services has conducted mine clearance work in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In 2000 it was taken over by U.S.-based Armor Holdings and relocated to South Africa.

Security Devices: This firm, based at Msasa, Harare, has since manufactured humanitarian demining equipment, particularly an apron and visor, since 1997. The U.S. Army, Mine-Tech, MgM in Angola and HI in Mozambique use the visors.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Since independence in 1980, some 13,000 landmine incidents have been recorded, but independent research has indicated that these statistics are understated by as much as forty percent.[30] Despite the deterioration and removal of previously protective fencing material along the minefield, many people know the general location of the mines, which has led to a decrease in injuries. In the Victoria Falls area, for example, the provincial hospital had not dealt with any landmine injuries from April through November 1999.[31] As noted above, in the Koch demining operations, between February 1999 and July 2000, a total of twenty people have been injured in eighteen accidents.

Landmine survivors are treated by the public health system. There are two national hospitals that are designated referral centers; eight provincial and fifty-six district hospitals. The first community based rehabilitation project was initiated by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society in 1982 and later handed over to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. It has gradually expanded to offer services for people with disabilities in forty-nine of Zimbabwe’s fifty-five districts. But all medical services are currently under resourced. [32] Artifical limbs are expensive and most people in the mine-affected areas cannot afford them (a prosthetic leg is about Z$8,000/US$210 and an arm, double that). Some NGOs and the ICRC and local Red Cross have offered subsidies to help victims.

On 28 May 2000, the National Council for the Disabled urged the government to inform landmine victims to collect their compensation, which is lying uncollected at the Council’s offices. The council noted that victims from the 1970’s liberation war had not collected their checks, and its Deputy Chairperson, Farai Cherera, said, “Over the last seven years, my organization has been receiving reports of landmine victims who have been dismissed from the national army. The money is there, but most people entitled to this compensation are not getting it due to ignorance.”[33] She has also called upon the central statistics office to update its records on landmine victims.


[1] Statement of the Hon. Nicholas Goche, Deputy Foreign Minister, First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, 3 May 1999.
[2] Mine Ban Treaty, Article 7 Report, submitted 11 January 2000, covering August 1999-January 2000.
[3] Article 7 Report, Form A, 11 January 2000; telephone interview with Lieutenant Colonel Tom Munongwa, Engineers Director, Harare, 25 April 2000. It was pointed out that the process of destroying the AP mines has awaited the passing of the Bill into law.
[4] Interview with Lt. Col Tom Munongwa, Harare, 26 April 2000. See also Article 7 Report, Form G, which reads: “The destruction programme is subject to the enactment of the APM Prohibition Bill which is now nearing submission to Parliament, after which it will be approved by the Head of State.”
[5] See, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 97-99.
[6] Article 7 Report, Form B, 11 January 2000. LM Report 1999 cited a Human Rights Watch interview in 1997 with an Army official, in which the official said Zimbabwe stockpiled POMZ-2, POMZ-2M, RAP 1, RAP 2, VS-50, M969 and ZAPS antipersonnel mines. According to Andy Smith, independent mine action consultant, interviewed on 3 July 2000, the ZDF Engineer School at Pomona Barracks near Harare holds stocks of M969, R2M, VS50, PMA, PMA2 and PMNs.
[7] Article 7 Report, Forms B, D, and G, 11 January 2000. Discrepancy on the submission verified with Ministry of Defense Official, Lt. Col T. Munongwa, 26 April 2000.
[8] Article 7 Report, Form G, 11 January 2000.
[9] Letters from Martin Rupiya to Permanent Secretaries of Ministries cited, 18 October 1999.
[10] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 99-100.
[11] Interview with U.S. intelligence specialist on DRC, London, 23 June 2000.
[12] “Regional Round Up,” De-Mining Debate, South African Institute of International Affairs, 1-8 July 1999, p. 9.
[13] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 101-103.
[14] Priority for the clearance of the CAPCO minefield has been relegated to the Army Engineers Squadron when they have built enough capacity, as it is located within an enclosure that does not necessarily risk the civilian population.
[15] Interview with Chris Pearce, Director, Mine-Tech, Johannesburg, 6 June 2000.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Both mines are classified as minimum metal mines.
[18] The assessment was conducted with the full support of government over the period 18 November to 26 November 1999 and published in February 2000.
[19] UNMAS Joint Assessment Mission Report: Zimbabwe, UN Mine Action Service and UNDP Resident Representative, Mission of 18-26 November 1999, p. 3.
[20] Matthew Takaona, “Army and Private Companies clear 26,000 landmines,” The Sunday Mail, 12 March 2000, p.5. There is a discrepancy in the amount of kilometers of land cleared. On the one hand, during a Landmine Monitor field survey interview on December 1999, it was reported 26 km had been cleared. But in a presentation the same month on the problem by Lt. Col. Munongwa, 21 km were reported as cleared and yet the Sunday Mail report of 12 March 2000 quotes 20 km as having been cleared in Victoria Falls.
[21] UNMAS Joint Assessment Mission Report, Zimbabwe, p. 10.
[22] Lt Col. T. Munongwa, Acting Director, Zimbabwe National Army Engineers Corps, Presentation on National Landmines Problem, Victoria Falls camp, 24 December 1999.
[23] Current rate of exchange stands at US$1:38.
[24] Human Rights Watch, “Clinton’s Landmine Legacy,” A Human Rights Watch Short Reort Vol. 12, No. 3, July 2000, p. 27.
[25] U.S. Department of State, “Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, FY2001 – Bureau of African Affairs,” 15 March 2000.
[26] In 1997 Koch Munitionsbergrungs was a former East German defense contractor with experience in clearing ranges of UXO in Germany; they had no direct experience of clearing minefields or of work in Africa. All information on its work in Zimbabwe comes from Brian Mounsor and Temba Kanganga, Project Managers at Koch Mine Safe, Harare, unless otherwise stated.
[27] Koch had problems assembling their manual teams because initial salaries offered were low. With a small available pool of experienced deminers in Zimbabwe, ultimately Koch had to do more training than anticipated, and as a result, there is now a small flow of Koch Mine Safe -trained deminers joining other companies.
[28] Interview with Temba Kanganga. Deputy Project Manager of Mine Safe at “The Road forward: Humanitarian Mine Clearance in Southern Africa,” South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg, 8 June 2000.
[29] Data from Andy Smith, DDIV database, 4 June 2000.
[30] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 109.
[31] Interview with Dr. Kulkarni and Sister-In-Charge, Ms. Sikosana, Victoria Falls Hospital, 4-6 December 1999.
[32] Apart from the field interviews with the different hospitals located in the mine-affected areas, Landmine Monitor also wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry on 18 November 1999, seeking his comments on victim assistance, but to date there has been no reply.
[33] “Landmine Victims Not Collecting Compensation,” Zimbabwe Standard, 28 May 2000.