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Country Reports
ZIMBABWE , Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: In January 2001, Zimbabwe enacted The Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act, 2000. In November 2000, Zimbabwe destroyed its stockpile of 4,092 antipersonnel mines. It has decided to retain 700 mines for permitted training purposes. European Union-funded mine clearance was terminated in December 2000. Zimbabwean officials strongly denied allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by Zimbabwean forces deployed in the DR Congo, as reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2000. Zimbabwe became co-chair of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention in September 2000.

Mine Ban Policy

Zimbabwe signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 18 June 1998. The treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. Zimbabwe promulgated the treaty into domestic law when it passed The Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act, 2000 in January 2001. Clause 5 of the Act provides for a penalty of Z$100,000 or ten years imprisonment or both for “any persons producing, acquiring, using, transferring or stockpiling antipersonnel mines.” Clause 8 compels anyone to provide information related to the above to the authorities. Failure to comply violates the provisions of the Act and one is liable to a fine of Z$20,000 or two years in prison or both. Zimbabwe's national legislation expressly outlaws the handling of antipersonnel mines and places the onus of divulging relevant information on every Zimbabwean. The ICBL has expressed concern about a provision in the Act relating to joint military operations with a country not party to the Mine Ban Treaty (see section below on “Assisting Mine Use.”)

Zimbabwe attended the Second Meeting of States Parties in September 2000, at which time it became co-chair of the intersessional Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention.[1] The delegation was led by Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, and included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Demining Office. In its statement to the plenary, Zimbabwe strongly denied the allegations regarding use of antipersonnel mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Zimbabwean forces, as reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2000, noting, “Zimbabwe will never be diverted or deterred from implementing the provisions of the [Mine Ban Treaty].... Zimbabwe has assumed a leadership role in championing the ban on the use of landmines and their ultimate destruction.”[2]

Zimbabwe participated in the Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001. As co-chair of the General Status Standing Committee, Zimbabwe made several strong statements about the importance of full and complete implementation of and compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty. Representatives of Zimbabwe attended the All-Africa Seminar on the Universalization and Implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Africa that was held 15-16 February 2001, in Bamako, Mali. Zimbabwe voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution in November 2000 calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Zimbabwe submitted its first transparency report required by Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 on 11 January 2000, covering the period from August 1999 to January 2000.[3] It submitted its annual updated report on 4 April 2001, covering calendar year 2000. For the new optional Form J, Zimbabwe indicated that a Victim Assistance report was pending input.[4]

It is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Zimbabwe was a past producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines, though not a significant one.[5]

On 15 November 2000, the armed forces destroyed the country’s stockpile of 4,092 antipersonnel landmines. This included 3,846 PMD-6 mines and 246 R2M2 mines. The destruction was completed at Inkomo Barracks, 40 kilometers west of the capital, Harare, in the presence of invited international and local media. The destruction was extensively aired on national television and radio and was covered by the national newspapers, including the independently owned press.[6] In its Article 7 report, Zimbabwe did not report on the location of destruction, the method of destruction, or the applicable environmental standards.

Zimbabwe has decided to retain 700 antipersonnel mines for training purposes (500 PMD-6 and 200 R2M2).[7] Zimbabwe has not reported on the precise intended use of these mines, beyond “training purposes.”


Landmine Monitor Report 1999 and Landmine Monitor Report 2000 noted unconfirmed allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by the Zimbabwean Defence Forces deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[8] At the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty is September 2000, Zimbabwe characterized these as “wild and unsubstantiated allegations,” and said, “ICBL’s failure to provide evidence or concrete facts for the past two years to show that Zimbabwe is using anti-personnel mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not only invalidate these accusations but also smacks of a hidden agenda against my country on its part.... [M]y country stopped using anti-personnel mines upon ratification in 1998.”[9]

Since 1999 Landmine Monitor has acknowledged that, due to the dangerous war-time conditions in the DRC, it does not have the capacity to substantiate or disprove the numerous allegations of antipersonnel mine use by virtually all parties to the DRC conflict, including the DRC forces, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and various rebel forces. Landmine Monitor has called on Mine Ban Treaty States Parties to seek clarifications and establish the facts regarding mine use in the DRC.

As noted in the 2001 DRC Landmine Monitor country report, there is no question that there has been continued use in the DRC of antipersonnel mines in this Landmine Monitor reporting period (since May 2000). However, it remains impossible to verify responsibility for that use, particularly in view of charges, counter-charges and denials by all parties.

Some sources contend that DRC government troops (known as FAC), supported by Zimbabwean forces, continued to use antipersonnel mines in the Ikela area (Equateur Province) during 2000, even after the rebel RCD siege of that town ended in January 2000.[10] Landmine Monitor also heard allegations of mine use in 1999 and 2000 in Shaba and Kasaï, on the frontline between FAC and RCD forces. The areas most frequently mentioned for mine use include Mbuji-Maï,[11] Kabinda, and Kabalo (Kalemie-Kabalo road). There were allegations about more recent mine use in the area of Pweto, which experienced heavy fighting from November 2000 through January 2001. Landmine Monitor cannot identify who laid mines in these areas.

In 2001, as fighting largely subsided in most of the DRC, various troops have begun the process of disengagement and redeployment. In late June 2001, it was reported that the ongoing withdrawal of Zimbabwe National Army troops from the DRC had been suspended until peacekeeping troops of the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC) could be deployed to areas vacated by the warring parties. ZNA Colonel Mbonisi Gatsheni said that about 4,000 Zimbabwean troops from three battalions had withdrawn from the DRC since April.[12]

The UN Secretary General’s April 2001 report on the DRC stated, “During the disengagement phase, MONUC received information indicating the presence of minefields laid by the belligerent forces to protect their front-line positions.... In view of both the increased number of new defensive positions and the danger of mines, MONUC has also confirmed the need to create additional small coordination centres....”[13] The UN report language is not clear about when the mines were laid. Landmine Monitor has not been able to confirm recent use, and does not know to which “belligerent forces” the United Nations report refers.

Assisting Mine Use

The ICBL has expressed concern that a Mine Ban Treaty State Party, such as Zimbabwe, could be in violation of the treaty by virtue of participating in a joint military operation with another nation, such as the DRC, 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.”

In this context, it should be noted that Zimbabwe’s Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act contains a clause that offers possible legal protection for a person acting “in the course of operations, exercises or other military activities with the armed forces of a State that is not party to the Convention,” if that person’s conduct “did not amount to active participation in any conduct referred to in paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of subsection (1) [referring to use, transfer, or production of antipersonnel mines].[14] There is no definition of what constitutes “active participation.”

The ICBL has called on Zimbabwe to 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. 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.

In light of continued serious allegations regarding mine use by States Parties, the ICBL again strongly urges Zimbabwe and other States Parties as a matter of priority to consult, seek clarification, and cooperate with each other to establish the facts and resolve questions regarding antipersonnel mine use in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mine Action Funding

The European Union’s grant to clear the 359 kilometer-long Mukumbura-Nyamapanda minefield on Zimbabwe's northeastern border was terminated, effective December 2000.[15] The internationally tendered contract had been won by Koch-Mine Safe, a private company comprised of German and local Zimbabwean operators.[16] Koch Mine Safe has since advertised for the wholesale disposal of its equipment and tools.[17] This turn of events has forced the government to divide the small team of Army Engineer Corps deminers between the Victoria Falls-Mlibizi minefield and the Mukumbura minefield.

The United States, in its fiscal year 2000 (October 1999-September 2000), provided $1.9 million in mine action assistance to Zimbabwe. This included one mission to train 51 deminers, and provision of vehicles and equipment.[18]

Landmine Problem, Survey/Assessement and Mine Action

Zimbabwe has identified seven mined areas that it estimates contain 1.17 million antipersonnel mines.[19] Zimbabwe reported in April 2001 that Mine Tech, a commercial company funded by GTZ, was carrying out a Level II Survey of the Malvernia (Sango) to Crooks Corner area (50 kilometers).[20]

When its operations ended, Koch-Mine Safe had cleared 6,523,267 million square meters of land, and 162,419 antipersonnel mines. The contract had called for clearance of 10 million square meters of land. Nationwide, clearance still needs to be carried out for over 500 kilometers of minefields located in remote rural regions and along the borders of the country. (See chart below).

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ Engineers Squadron is clearing the 143 kilometer Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield; a total of 40 kilometers were reported cleared at the end of December 2000.[21] Three teams of 60 men each were given five-week training sessions by the US military,[22] and now operate using G7H bulldozers and Rollers Survey Equipment. Some of the cleared area is in the urban environs of the Victoria Falls town and has been handed back to the local authority.

The state of the minefields in Zimbabwe is as follows:

Original length
Area Cleared
Victoria Falls
243 km[23]
80 km [24]
163 km [25]
Songo – Crooks Corner
50 km
50 km
335 km
130 km
205 km
Stapleford – Leako Hill
50 km
50 km
Burma Valley
3 km
3 km
Junction Gate-Jersey Tea
75 km
75 km
1 km
.500 m
.500 m [29]

757 km
210.5 km
546.5 km.[30]

Mine clearance work in the northeast had rekindled the peoples’ expectations of re-use and settlement of cleared land. Local officials have appealed for increased and sustained mine awareness programs throughout the country in order to educate people hungry for land to desist from unplanned settlement in the cleared areas and even within the still un-cleared zones. This is a problem in the Victoria Falls area. The Zimbabwe Army carries out limited mine awareness campaigns in areas being cleared.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

The total number of landmine casualties in Zimbabwe is unknown as no detailed statistics are kept. In 1999, it was estimated that 70 people had been killed and over 400 injured by landmines.[31]

In the Mukumbura minefield area, eight victims injured between 1980 and 2000 were identified. Four of the mine accidents occurred in 2000. Seven of the victims required an amputation. One victim lost a limb in 1980 and again in 2000 in a second landmine accident. The youngest victim was a 12-year-old boy. Two victims were transported to hospital in wheelbarrows. In the Victoria Falls minefield area, five victims were identified between 1982 and 1999. One victim died and three required amputations.[32]

The Zimbabwe government bears the initial cost of treating landmine victims, including the fitting of the first prosthesis. However, subsequent medical care or compensation for loss of ability to generate earnings is not available.[33]

It was evident from field research that there is little follow up assistance and support available to survivors beyond the initial treatment and fitting of prostheses. Many survivors improvised with old tires and pieces of wood to repair the artificial limbs that they received several years before. While prostheses need periodic replacement and professional adjustment, evidence on the ground reveals a desperate situation in which improvisation and making do with available materials has become the order of the day.

Disability Policy and Practice

Since 1995, the needs of the disabled have been represented in Parliament by a disability activist, who was appointed by President Mugabe. Viewed as model legislation, the Disabled Persons Act of 1992 specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, admission to public places, or provision of services.  However, in practice, the lack of resources for training and education severely hampers the ability of disabled persons to compete for scarce jobs. The disabled also face harsh discrimination based of the traditional belief that a person with disabilities is bewitched.[34]

[1] Zimbabwe had served as co-rapporteur of the General Status Standing Committee since the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999.
[2] Statement of the Zimbabwe Delegation to the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 13 September 2000.
[3] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 121-122, for a discussion of Zimbabwe's first Article 7 submission.
[4] Article 7 report, submitted 4 April 2001, covering January 2000 to December 2000.
[5] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 97-99, for details on past production and trade.
[6] Conversation between Landmine Monitor and the Minister of Defense, Moven Mahachi, Harare, November 2000. Examples of coverage include The Herald, Zimbabwe Mirror and Daily News; the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC); Radio Stations 1, 2 and 3 as well as video clips shown on Zimbabwe Television Channel I. See especially, “The ZNA destroys Anti-Personnel Mines,” The Herald, 17 November 2001; Herbert Zharare, “Mahachi attacks European Union for abandoning de-mining programme,” The Zimbabwe Mirror, 17-23 November 2000, p. 3.
[7] Article 7 report, Form D, submitted 4 April 2001. The first Article 7 report, submitted 11 January 2000, had indicated in Form B that 200 R2M2 would be retained, and in Form D that 446 would be retained.
[8] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 122-123, stated, “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 Report 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. 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. Landmine Monitor has not seen these accounts and cannot verify them.”
[9] Statement of the Zimbabwe Delegation to the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 13 September 2000.
[10] Perhaps the most serious allegations of use by FAC, supported by Zimbawean forces, have been made with respect to extensive use of antipersonnel mines in the area surrounding the town of Ikela (Equateur Province), in particular during the siege of the town by the rebel RCD from mid-1999 to January 2000. Rebel troops allegedly lost one vehicle and dozens of soldiers during the siege because of landmines. Around 3,000 Zimbabwean troops fighting alongside DRC army units were holed up in Ikela for some seven months due to the rebel siege. See “Congolese Rebels Deny Breaking of Ikela Siege,” Sapa-AFP, Kigali, 18 January 2000. See also, “Ikela heroes recall life under siege,” Sunday Mail, Harare, 24 September 2000, which states, “Staff Sergeant Sinini Nkala who commanded the engineers at Ikela said booby traps had to be set around the Ikela base.”
[11] Interview by Landmine Monitor researcher for the DRC with Mr. Mubima, press attaché of the DRC Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya, 29 April 2001. He said, “The Lodja forest in Kasai near Mbuji-Mayi is heavily mined. Villagers are in terrible famine, because they can not have access to their farms for fear of mines.”
[12] “DRC: Zimbabwe withdrawal on hold pending MONUC deployment,” IRIN, Nairobi, 22 June 2001, sourcing the Financial Times. (See: http://new.reliefweb.int/IRIN/archive/drc.phtml).
[13] “Seventh report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” UN Security Council, S/2001/373, 17 April 2001, p. 9.
[14] Section 5 (3) (a) and (b).
[15] “Herbert Zharare, “Mahachi attacks European Union for abandoning de-mining programme,” The Zimbabwe Mirror, 17 - 23 November 2000, p. 3. Zimbabwe’s Article 7 report, submitted 4 April 2001, notes that the demining operation stopped in December 2000 due to lack of funds and that only half the total minefield was cleared.
[16] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999.
[17] See advertisement in The Herald, 6 February 2001, p. 7.
[18] US Department of State, “Demining Program History,” 24 October 2000, and “FY00 NADR Project Status,” 27 December 2000.
[19] Article 7 report, Form C, submitted 4 April 2001. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 123-124, for details on the landmine problem.
[20] Article 7 report, Form C, submitted 4 April 2001.
[21] Ibid.
[22] “US Special Forces Provide $110 million for demining,” The Herald, 13 May 2000, p. 5.
[23] The Article 7 report indicates that this is 143 square kilometres, but the Landmine Monitor researcher notes that it has been identified as 243 square kilometres in the past.
[24] Interview with Major Ncube, Commanding Officer Mine Clearance Unit based in Victoria Falls, 8 February 2001.
[25] Field surveys and interview held in the tourist resort with Mr. G.C. Sibanda, Victoria Falls Town Engineer, 6 February 2001.
[26] Except for access routes around roads or designated Immigration and Customs points along the border with Mozambique.
[27] Some clearance began in 1982. Mounds of AP contaminated earth were shoved into inaccessible places by mechanical dozers.
[28] Some clearance occurred before 1982.
[29] Engineers Squadron undertook an estimated 50% clearance to enable the expansion of administration buildings for the Central Power Corporation.
[30] An approximate figure as some gaps and access routes for immigration posts as well as local commercial activities have been cleared.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 109.
[32] Landmine Monitor interviews with survivors in Mukumbura carried out on 30-31 January 2001. Full details are available from Landmine Monitor.
[33] See also Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 127.
[34] US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000: Zimbabwe, February 2001.