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Country Reports
Zimbabwe, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: The National Mine Action Plan has been completed and priority areas for clearance updated. Zimbabwe has said that without increased funding, it will not be able to meet its 2009 mine clearance deadline. In 2003, ZIMAC reported 26 new mine/UXO casualties, including two deminers; this is a significant increase from nine casualties reported in 2002.

Key developments since 1999: The Mine Ban Treaty entered into force for Zimbabwe in March 1999. In January 2001, Zimbabwe enacted The Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act, 2000. In November 2000, Zimbabwe destroyed its stockpile of 4,092 antipersonnel mines, retaining 700 mines for training purposes. Zimbabwe served as co-rapporteur, then co-chair, of the Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention from May 1999 to September 2001. Zimbabwe strongly denied allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by its forces deployed in the DR Congo, and rejected concerns about possible “assistance” to other forces using mines.

Major mine clearance operations started in March 1999. Zimbabwe reports that by the end of 2003, 221,020 antipersonnel landmines had been cleared from three of Zimbabwe’s seven identified contaminated areas. In 2002, a National Authority on Mine Action was established to formulate a national mine action plan, and the Zimbabwe Mine Action Center was formed to coordinate all mine action in the country. Mine risk education has been carried out in the country since 1998. Between 1999 and 2002, 31 mine/UXO casualties were reported; another 26 were reported in 2003.

Mine Ban Policy

Zimbabwe signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 18 June 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. Zimbabwe was one of the nine African States attending the October 1996 meeting in Canada that launched the Ottawa Process. On 15 May 1997, Zimbabwe announced a unilateral ban on antipersonnel mines.[1] Zimbabwe enacted “The Anti-Personnel Mines (Prohibition) Act 2000” in January 2001. The act incorporates the Mine Ban Treaty into Zimbabwe’s domestic law.[2] The ICBL expressed concern about a provision in the Act relating to joint military operations with a country not party to the Mine Ban Treaty (see below).[3]

Zimbabwe submitted its Article 7 report for calendar year 2003 on 1 December 2003. This was its fourth Article 7 report.[4]

Zimbabwe has attended all of the annual Meetings of States Parties and the intersessional meetings. At the First Meeting of States Parties in May 1999, Zimbabwe became co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, and then served as co-chair from September 2000 to September 2001.

Zimbabwe has voted in favor of every pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

Zimbabwe has rarely engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had on matters if interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3, and more specifically, the issues of joint military operations with non-States Parties and the prohibition on “assist,” foreign stockpiling and transit of antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices, and the acceptable number of mines retained for training.

However, in May 2002, Zimbabwe made a lengthy statement regarding joint operations and assistance in prohibited acts. In the context of allegations of landmine use by many of the fighting forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ICBL expressed concern that Zimbabwe could be in violation of the treaty by virtue of participating in a joint military operation with DRC forces that used antipersonnel mines in that operation.[5] At the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2002, Zimbabwe informed States Parties that it would not participate in planning and implementation of activities related to antipersonnel mine use in joint operations, and that its troops remained bound by “our domestic laws even if they are operating beyond our borders.”[6]

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 engaged in military activities with a non-State Party in which antipersonnel mines are used, transferred or produced, if that person’s conduct “did not amount to active participation” in any banned activities.[7] There is no definition of what constitutes “active participation.”

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Zimbabwe was a past producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines, but not a significant one.[8] Production of two types of Claymore mines, the Z1 and ZAPS types, ended when Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.[9]

Zimbabwe destroyed its stockpile of 4,092 antipersonnel mines in November 2000, retaining 700 mines for training purposes.[10] Zimbabwe’s Article 7 Report for 2003 indicated that the number of retained mines has not changed.

In 2003, a representative of Zimbabwe confirmed to Landmine Monitor that Claymore-type mines are stockpiled by its armed forces, but without tripwire actuating fuses, because Zimbabwe considers these illegal under the Mine Ban Treaty.

Landmine Monitor reported repeated allegations of the use of antipersonnel landmines by the Zimbabwe Defense Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo at least up to 1999. Zimbabwe consistently and strongly denied the allegations.[11]

Landmine Problem, Survey and Assessment

Mines were used extensively during the liberation war between 1963-1980, particularly along the borders of Mozambique and Zambia. As of January 2002, 27 percent of known mined areas were reported to have been cleared.[12] In its 2003 Article 7 report, Zimbabwe indicated about 1.148 million antipersonnel landmines contaminate six areas.[13] Zimbabwe summarized the status of its landmine problem at the February 2004 intersessional Standing Committee meetings, stating, “Despite our efforts in the last two decades, Zimbabwe still has thousands of mines planted in its territory. The border areas of the country are the most affected. These mines impact negatively on the Zimbabwean border communities creating social, economic and psychological problems as well as damaging the family cell. About 30% of the population is at risk directly or indirectly ... economic development continues to be hampered due to the continued existence of these minefields, 23 years after the end of the war.”[14]

In April 2001, Zimbabwe reported that Mine Tech, a commercial company funded by German Technical Cooperation of Zimbabwe (GTZ), was carrying out a Level 2 Survey of the Malvernia (Sango) to Crooks Corner area (50 kilometers).[15] Mine Tech also undertook Level 1 and Level 2 Surveys of the sector five border minefield for the potential three-nation conservation project, encompassing national parks in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. During this operation, about 41,272 square meters of land were surveyed, and 47 antipersonnel mines and 293 PloughShare directional fragmentation mines were located.[16] The Level 2 Survey indicated that the mine threat in this area was far greater than had been initially thought, and a concept plan for clearance was developed by Mine Tech.[17] No Level 2 surveys have been conducted in other parts of the country because of financial constraints.[18]

Coordination and Planning

The National Demining Office (NDO) was established in 1998 with the assistance of the United States to coordinate, prioritize and integrate all demining activities in the country. In compliance with the Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act and to fulfill the requirements of the Mine Ban Treaty, in early 2002 a National Authority on Mine Action in Zimbabwe (NAMAZ) was established. NAMAZ, as the policy-making body, was tasked with the formulation of a National Mine Action Plan (NMAP).

In addition, the Zimbabwe Mine Action Center (ZIMAC) was created to manage, coordinate and facilitate all mine action activities in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with the international community. The NDO, which is an integral part of and falls under ZIMAC, remains responsible for demining activities.[19]

Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) database on all mine-affected countries in the region became operational in 2003, with the main terminal situated in Mozambique, and Zimbabwe having a sub-regional office hooked into the database.[20] The purpose of the database is for countries in the region to be able to share experiences, advice and information among themselves, and with the international community, about national and regional mine action activities.[21]

In February 2004, Zimbabwe reported that the National Mine Action Plan was completed and the priority areas for clearance set, as follows: complete clearance of the Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield, using the money allocated by the government in 2004; clear the Sango Border Post to Limpopo minefield, to enable the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to open offices in the area, and for the development of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier National Park;[22] complete clearance of the Musengezi to Nyamapanda South (Rwenya) minefield; the Sheba Forest to Beacon Hill minefield; and the Rusitu to Mutize minefield. Priority for clearance is based on the need for economic development in agriculture, tourism and resettlement.[23]

In February 2004, the Director of ZIMAC told Landmine Monitor that if sufficient funds are not obtained, Zimbabwe will not be able to meet its March 2009 Mine Ban Treaty deadline for mine clearance. At the current rate of demining activity in Zimbabwe, the time needed to effectively clear remaining landmines is estimated at 10 to 15 years.[24]

Mine Clearance

The ZDF is the only body still undertaking landmine clearance in Zimbabwe. Lack of funds from the donor community, in reaction to Zimbabwe’s land reform program, has hampered progress in demining.

According to Zimbabwe’s December 2003 Article 7 report, by the end of 2003, 221,020 antipersonnel landmines had been cleared from three of Zimbabwe’s seven identified contaminated areas.[25] This total includes the antipersonnel mines destroyed by Koch Mine Safe in the Musengezi to Nyamapanda South (Rwenya) minefield in 1999 and 2000.

Clearance activities have focused on the Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield since 2001. In 2003, 7,101 mines were destroyed there by the ZDF.[26] In 2002, Zimbabwe reported clearing 85 kilometers and destroying 16,000 mines in that area.[27] At the end of 2000, 80 of the 243 kilometers that constitute this minefield had been cleared;[28] by December 2003, there were only 13 kilometers remaining to be cleared.[29]

By the time Koch Mine Safe’s contract ended in December 2000, with the termination of European Union (EU) funds, 130 kilometers of the 335 kilometer-long Musengezi to Nyamapanda South (Rwenya) minefield had been cleared.[30]

In its December 2003 Article 7 report, Zimbabwe outlined the status of the remaining contaminated areas. It reported 6,600 square meters have been cleared in Stappleford Forest to Mutare minefield, out of a 50 kilometer-long area, with an estimated 250,000 antipersonnel landmines remaining; clearance has not yet begun in Junction Gate to Jersey Tea minefield (75 kilometers/12,960 estimated antipersonnel landmines), Sango to Crooks Corner minefield (50 / 247,600, respectively), and Burma Valley minefield (3/60, respectively); and clearance of the one kilometer contaminated area around the Kariba Power Station has reportedly been completed.[31]

Other Mine Action Activities

While no longer carrying out clearance inside the country, Mine Tech has completed over 133 international mine action-related contracts.[32] It began working in Iraq in May 2003, operating from Basra; as of February 2004, its contract had been extended by the United Nations.[33] The company has also operated in Eritrea, Somaliland, Macedonia and Kosovo, and in April 2002, undertook an assignment in Lebanon, as part of Operation Emirates Solidarity.[34]

Southern Africa Demining Services Agency (SADSA), formed in January 2001 and headquartered in Harare, is a commercial mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal company that has been involved in mine clearance on Zimbabwe’s northeast border. In 2003, SADSA had demining contracts in Croatia and Lebanon.[35]

In 2002, Landmine Monitor reported that Security Devices had been contracted by SADC to design and test new mine action equipment. Preliminary tests on the effectiveness of new types of visors and aprons were carried out at the NDO in April 2001. In June 2001, secondary tests were carried out in Chimoi, Mozambique.[36]

Mine Risk Education

The NDO has a Mine Risk Education (MRE) Section to carry out MRE campaigns throughout the country. The campaigns, which have been running since 1998, are coordinated with the national army and local authorities, and occur at schools, business centers, agricultural shows, health centers, and at the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. Areas targeted for MRE are mostly those that are adjacent to mined areas, and information is also collected on UXO and mines in the area during this process. Some minefields are well marked, but in other areas, minefield markings have either deteriorated or been removed by villagers for other use. Villagers must then rely on local knowledge.[37]

Mine risk education continues to be a key priority of ZIMAC, but a lack of resources has hampered most of its plans. MRE is crucial in Zimbabwe, given the interest in resettlement by the population, current demining levels, and the amount of partially cleared land.

The NDO does not have external assessors to appraise the mine risk education campaigns. Evaluation is done internally by going back to the area to ascertain whether the pattern of behavior has changed or not.[38] A former deminer felt the success and effectiveness of MRE was difficult to evaluate, because of the different literacy levels and comprehension of the communities, and the fact that no follow-up tests are carried out.[39] On the positive side, according to US officials who attended an MRE campaign activity in Mukumbura in November 2001, mine risk education in Zimbabwe compared well with that carried out in Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere in the world.[40]

Mine Action Funding

The government of Zimbabwe has allocated Z$310 million (US$380,060) for demining in 2004.[41] Although this appears a significant increase over previous years’ funding, the value of the Zimbawean dollar has decreased dramatically during the reporting period. Landmine Monitor has reported that Zimbabwe’s national budget for mine action Z$40 million (US$760,000) in 2003; Z$10 million (US$190,000) in 2002; and, Z$5 million (US$95,000) in 2001.[42]

Zimbabwe has not received external funds for its mine action programs since 2001. From 1998-2001, the US government provided more than $6 million for mine action activities in Zimbabwe. An EU grant of $4.086 million to clear the Mukumbura to Nyamapanda South (Rwenya) minefield was terminated in December 2000, forcing Zimbabwe to redeploy its demining corps.[43]

Landmine Casualties

In 2003, ZIMAC reported 26 new mine/UXO casualties, including five people killed and 21 injured. Two of the casualties were deminers injured during clearance operations in Victoria Falls.[44] This represents a significant increase from the nine people reported injured in mine/UXO incidents in 2002; at least seven casualties were caused by antipersonnel mines.[45] Between 1999 and 2002, at least two people were killed and 29 injured in reported mine incidents.[46]

The total number of mine casualties in Zimbabwe is unknown as no comprehensive records are available, and it is believed many mine incidents have gone unreported. According to a UN mission to Zimbabwe in November 1999, mine incidents killed at least 46 people and injured another 210 since 1980. However, it was estimated that this figure represented only 60 percent of the total number of casualties during the period.[47]

In September 2002, a Zimbabwean deminer lost his hand in a mine accident in south Lebanon.[48] Landmines have reportedly also killed or injured Zimbabwean military personnel during peacekeeping missions in Somalia and Angola, and during military operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[49]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Zimbabwe reportedly has good medical facilities but access is difficult for mine survivors living in remote areas. Some mine casualties die because of the time taken to reach a suitably equipped medical facility. Emergency medical care and a basic prosthesis or crutches are provided free by the government, but continued or follow up medical care and replacement of artificial limbs is at the cost of the survivor and their family. Many mine survivors from poor rural communities do not have the resources to pay for on-going care and rehabilitation.[50] It was evident from Landmine Monitor field research that there is little follow-up assistance available to survivors. A lack of government funds does not allow for a comprehensive survivor assistance program in Zimbabwe. Assistance for all persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors, is channeled through the Social Dimension Fund of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.[51] There is no single organization providing assistance to landmine survivors, however, some activities are implemented through the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH).[52]

In early 2002, the Zimbabwe Mine Action Center established the Victims Assistance, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Resettlement Office. The office is tasked with establishing and maintaining a mine casualty database, and coordinating activities for the care, rehabilitation and reintegration of mine survivors.[53] ZIMAC sees the creation of a comprehensive database on mine survivors as an important step in the development of programs to address the needs of mine survivors, including vocational training and the creation of income generation projects. ZIMAC also wants landmine survivors to form an association to raise awareness on their needs; however, no outside assistance is currently available to fund any activities.[54]

Zimbabwe submitted the voluntary Form J attachment with its annual Article 7 Report for 2002 and 2003. Both reports stated that NASCOH was collecting information nationwide to establish a database but the program was limited due to a lack of resources.[55]

The 1992 “Disabled Persons Act” protects the rights of persons with disabilities to such things as rehabilitation and employment, and established the National Disability Board. However, in practice, the lack of resources for training and education severely limits access to employment and other benefits.[56]

[1] Press Statement on Zimbabwe Government Policy on Antipersonnel Landmines, 15 May 1997. In this unilateral ban, Zimbabwe said it would not manufacture or import antipersonnel mines, and was ready to destroy its stockpiles within the next five years, retaining only a few for training purposes.
[2] Article 7 Report, Form A, 1 December 2003.
[3] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 176.
[4] Previous submissions included its initial Article 7 Report on 11 January 2000 (for August 1999 to January 2000), an update on 4 April 2001 (for calendar year 2000), and an update on 13 February 2003 (for calendar year 2002). In 2003, Landmine Monitor reported receiving a copy of an updated report for calendar year 2001 (dated December 2001) from government officials, but the UN apparently never received it. Zimbabwe submitted the voluntary Form J attachment with its annual Article 7 Report for 2002 and 2003.
[5] 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.”
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 532, for more detail on Zimbabwe’s statement. The delegate stated, “We therefore in our view, believe that the term assist should be interpreted, relating directly to the activity in question and should not be applied liberally or given too wide a definition....Active participation...means actively participating in the carrying, laying and training in the use, manufacture, distribution, encouraging or inducing someone in the use of APMs. It is therefore our humble submission that the terms assist and active participation in the context of Article 1 mean knowingly and intentionally participating directly or rendering assistance on the use, transfer and/or production of AP mines.”
[7] Section 5 (3) (a) and (b).
[8] For more information on past production and export, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 97-99.
[9] Interview with Col. J. Munongura, Director, Zimbabwe Mine Action Center, Geneva, 4 February 2003. Production and handling of RAP 1 and RAP 2 antipersonnel mines became so dangerous, that they ceased being made in the last years of the liberation war. According to the government, production of PloughShare type mines was stopped sometime between 1990 and 1993. Human Rights Watch Arms Project, Still Killing: Landmines in Southern Africa, New York, HRW, 1997, p. 165.
[10] For details on stocks and retained mines, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 177.
[11] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 99-100; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 122-123; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 177-179.
[12] Presentation on National Demining Operations by Maj. Vengesai, 17 January 2002.
[13] The numbers in Zimbabwe’s Article 7, Form C reports for 2002 and 2003 are inconsistent. The total “estimated present density” in the 2003 report is given as 859,177, but the individual numbers add up to 1,147,779. Similarly in the 2002 report, the 2002 estimated density was given as 1,166,280, but the actual total of the numbers given is 1,157,880.
[14] Statement by Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 11 February 2004.
[15] Article 7 Report, Form C, 4 April 2001.
[16] Mine Tech, at: http://www.minetech.co.uk/Africa.html .
[17] Email from Jody Maine, Mine Tech International, 12 July 2002.
[18] National Demining Office, "Report on the Area Covered by the Mine Awareness Section, 1998 – 2001.”
[19] Email from Col. J. Munongwa, Director, ZIMAC, 8 July 2003.
[20] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, ZIMAC, Harare, 19 February 2004.
[21] Email from Col. J. Munongwa, ZIMAC, 8 July 2003.
[22] A total of US$10 million may be required to demine this 75 kilometer-long minefield. As reported by Landmine Monitor in 2002, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park covers an area of over 35,000 square kilometers—extending into South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique—and is considered by some as the most significant and ambitious conservation project worldwide.
[23] Statement by Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 11 February 2004.
[24] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, ZIMAC, 19 February 2004.
[25] Breakdown as follows: 162,419 in Musengezi to Nyamapanda South (Rwenya) minefield; 58,101 in Victoria Falls to Mlibizi minefield; and 500 in Stappleford Forest to Mutare minefield.
[26] Article 7 Report, Form G, 1 December 2003.
[27] Article 7 Report, Forms F and G, 13 February 2003.
[28] Interview with Maj. Ncube, Commanding Officer, Mine Clearance Unit based in Victoria Falls, 8 February 2001.
[29] Article 7 Report, Forms F and G, 1 December 2003.
[30] Article 7 Report, Forms C and F, 1 December 2003. Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 534, said this constituted clearance of about 6.2 million square meters.
[31] Again, the Article 7 Reports are not entirely clear. The 2002 Article 7 Report indicted the Kariba Power Station had an estimated 3,000 antipersonnel mines still to be cleared. In the 2003 Article 7 Report, Kariba Power Station showed no mines remaining, but the report gave no indication of clearance activity in that area for the year.
[32] Cyril Zenda, “Mine Tech Earns World Honours,” The Financial Gazette, 3 May 2002.
[33] Daily Mirror, 24 February 2004.
[34] “Mine Tech,” The Financial Gazette, 3 May 2002.
[35] Interview with Brigadier General T. Kanganga, Director, Southern Africa Demining Services Agency and Former Deputy Project Manager, Koch Mine Safe, Harare, 12 February 2003.
[36] Interview with Maj. Nhidza (Retd), Director, Southern African Demining Operations, Harare, 5 February 2002. Continued research on the effectiveness of the visor was moved to Pretoria, South Africa, because of a lack of capacity in Zimbabwe.
[37] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, National Coordinator and Director of Operations, NDO, Harare, 14 July 2002.
[38] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, Director, ZIMAC, Harare, 11 February 2003.
[39] Interview with Michael Laban, former deminer with Mine Tech, 1 February 2002.
[40] Interview with Chief Warrant Officer T. Castle, Operations Coordinator, and Capt. T. Cook, Foreign Area Officer, US Embassy, Harare, 5 February 2002.
[41] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, ZIMAC, 19 February 2004. (Above conversion is based on 1 January 2004 rate; 1 February rate equaled US$376,068; and 1 April rate, US$72,479; www.oanda.com .)
[42] Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 504.
[43] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 180; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 532-533; Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 504. For information about mine action funding pre-1998, see Landmine Monitor Report 199, pp. 103-105.
[44] Interview with Col. J. Munongwa, ZIMAC, 19 February 2004.
[45] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 506.
[46] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 536; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 181-182; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 127; and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 109.
[47] UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission: Zimbabwe,” 15 February 2000, p. 8.
[48] “African mine-clearer loses hand in explosion in south Lebanon,” Associated Press, 21 September 2002.
[49] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 109.
[50] Presentation by Zimbabwe, Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration, Geneva, 10 February, 2004.
[51] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 536; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 182.
[52] Interviews with Farai Mukuta, Director, National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, Harare, 6 and 13 February 2003.
[53] Email from Colonel Munongwa, ZIMAC, 8 July 2003.
[54] Zimbabwe, presentation to the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration, Geneva, 10 February, 2004.
[55] Article 7 Report, Form J, 1 December 2003; Article 7 Report, Form J, 13 February 2003.
[56] “Disabled Persons Act” 1992; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 182.