Practice Relating to Rule 83. Removal or Neutralization of Landmines
In 2012, on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the President of Zimbabwe stated:
I am heartened to note that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have over the years continued to be involved in the humanitarian work of removing anti-personnel landmines that were planted along our borders with Zambia and Mozambique. … Today marks thirty-two years after the hostilities ended and yet we still have the dangerous weapons indiscriminately wreaking havoc on civilian populations, their livestock as well as wild life in the vicinity of the minefields. Regrettably progress in this exercise has been limited because of inadequate resources as the demining process is a very slow and expensive process.
International law surprisingly puts the responsibility of removing the landmines on the Governments of the affected countries instead of punishing those responsible for planting them. … While support in this area was briefly extended to us by the American Government and the European Union in the late 1990s, it was quickly withdrawn soon after the turn of the century… Since then, the programme has been squarely the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Engineer Corps, who are currently deployed at the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner minefield.
Recent developments in the area of demining have seen the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) coming in to assist the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Engineer Corps by training their deminers as well as providing them with modern demining equipment that will further boost their demining capacity. We sincerely welcome this assistance and urge the ICRC to consider doing more [o]n this highly deserving humanitarian issue.
In 2013, on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the President of Zimbabwe stated:
As we might be aware, Zimbabwe is a State Party of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines, which we ratified in 1999. The Convention brings together all States that have problems of landmines. Zimbabweans will recall that since independence, the country has grappled with the scourge of anti-personnel landmines that were laid by the Smith regime along our borders with Mozambique and Zambia. The need to clear these landmines saw us join the Ottawa Convention, which among other obligations, required us to clear most landmines within our territory within ten years of our joining the Convention, that is, by 2009. However, due to the costly nature of landmine clearance and the unavailability of resources on our part, Zimbabwe could not meet this deadline. Consequently we had to seek and were granted three successive extensions, with the latest 24-month extension granted in November last year.
In pursuit of this objective of meeting our deadline, members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have been tirelessly working on the clearance of landmines along our border with Mozambique. Relatively slow progress has been registered on the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner minefield owing to limited available resources.
In a bid to quicken up the process of clearing the landmines, the Ministry of Defence contracted two International De-mining Non-Governmental Organizations, which will complement the military deminers’ efforts. One of the NGOs has already started work while the other one is set to start soon after its logistical arrangements are in place.
Landmines have continued to be a menace to the communities living around the minefields and a hindrance to their access to the productive use of their land. In addition to the work they undertook on the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner minefield, members of the Zimbabwe National Army Engineer Demining Squadron also cleared landmines on approximately 2400 square metres of land at Kariba Power Station from March to May 2013.
In 2014, in an oral answer to a question without notice in the Senate, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Defence stated:
[I]t is true as we all know that during the liberation war, the Rhodesians planted a lot of landmines along our borders with Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa … After Independence, we launched a programme that was initially supported by the international community to clear the landmines along the border areas. We cleared areas in the Victoria Falls area and we cleared some areas in the Mukumbura area. We are currently clearing some of the mine fields along the border with South Africa. This, we are doing with our own resources. We are also getting some assistance from one or two organisations and the process is going on. We have a whole unit that is dedicated to this programme and we would want a situation where the soil of Zimbabwe is landmine free.
We are training some of the personnel to do so and this is a programme that is ongoing. I hope very soon we should be able to report that Zimbabwe has been cleared of landmines.
In 2016, in a speech during the acceptance ceremony of demining equipment donated by the ICRC, the Minister of Defence of Zimbabwe stated:
With regards [to] Mine Action, cooperation between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Ministry of Defence started in February 2012 when the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). …
I am pleased to acknowledge at this juncture that the ICRC’s unsolicited assistance has indeed capacitated the Zimbabwe National Army Demining Unit as activity more than doubled with the coming on board of the ICRC in 2012. They managed to clear 21 kilometres on the secondary mineﬁeld and another 13 kilometres on the primary mineﬁeld between the Limpopo and Mwenezi River and also another 4 kilometres along the primary mineﬁeld across Mwenezi River.
The current donation of 30 Mine Detectors, 30 Rechargeable Batteries, 30 Charging Sets, 30 Deminer Toolkits. 60 Aprons, 60 Face Visors, 60 Scratch Shields, 60 Knee Guards, 80 Magnetic Sticks, 2 Range Finders, 5 Measure Wheens, 5 Sighting Compasses, 2 Small Tents, 5 Water Puriﬁcation Sets, 200 Mine Risk Education (MRE) t-shirts, 200 MRE Notebooks and 200 MRE posters will certainly further enhance the demining capacity of our military deminers. Our plans of introducing a second Demining Squadron are at an advanced stage and once all the necessary requirements are in place the Squadron will be deployed. The Squadron will certainly be one of the beneficiaries of the donated equipment from the ICRC.
The honour bestowed on me to receive this equipment on behalf of the Ministry of Defence is indeed humbling as the equipment is set to save the lives of many of people living along the mined areas. In that regard, may I take this opportunity [to] extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to lCRC for this important gesture of goodwill that will go a long way in ridding our borders of the remaining menace of anti-personnel landmines. Currently we are expected to provide clear information on the remaining mine problem in Zimbabwe to the  Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel landmines by January 2017 and this donation is a positive development that will enable us to determine how much time and resources we would need to complete the remaining task.
May I also take this opportunity to urge the ICRC to continue with its assistance to us in the area of landmine clearance which you are all aware is capital intensive. I wish to inform the ICRC that we are on the verge of engaging two more demining organisations once our internal processes are complete. The coming on board of these two organisations would certainly add more clarity on the progress we would make in demining our demined land.
With these few remarks, allow me to once again thank the ICRC for their timely donation of demining equipment that we so urgently require in order to fulﬁll our obligations under the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel landmines.
In 2016, in a statement during the Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines providing an update on mine clearance by the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre, the representative of Zimbabwe stated:
2. … [L]ike most States Parties that were involved in the negotiation of this Convention, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT) [1997 Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines] entered into force for Zimbabwe in 1999. As most of us are aware, Zimbabwe was unable to fulfil her Article 5 Obligation [to destroy anti-personnel mines in mined areas] by the expiry of her ten year deadline in March 2009 due to lack of international support. …
3. … [T]his meeting has come at a time when Zimbabwe is preparing its 5th extension request and National Strategic Plan, based on the established extent of contamination revealed by the resurvey [of mined areas]. …
PROGRESS TO DATE
5. I am pleased to announce … that Zimbabwe has made great strides in implementing her Article 5 obligations by addressing matters raised on the previous and current extension periods. These cover re-surveys, land release and clearance of the remaining contaminated land, Capacity Building, Mine Risk Education, Victim Assistance and National Strategic Plan.
RE-SURVEY OF THE REMAINING MINED AREAS
6. … I am honoured to inform this meeting that Zimbabwe has … completed re-surveys, one of the requirements for being granted the fo[u]rth extension period. From the Non Technical Surveys (NTS) conducted by Halo Trust, NPA [Norwegian People’s Aid], and the NMC [National Mine Clearance] Unit, it is now clear that the initial contaminated area was 180 819 072 m2[.]
MINEFIELD CLEARANCE AND LAND RELEASE
7. … [O]f the Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA) stated above of 180 819 072 m2, 107 250 288 m2 has since been released by either NTS or manual clearance recovering and destroying 78 437 AP mines as at 31 October 2016.
8. The cumulative remaining mined land in Zimbabwe as at 21 November 2016, was 73 568 784 m2. Madam President, there have been remarkable continued positive developments in demining operations throughout the country as detailed below.
a. National Mine Clearance Squadron. Madam President, the NMC increased its capacity from 120 to 150 deminers in 2016. In terms of its working progress, the National Mine Clearance Unit has, since its completion of clearance of the 12,37km2 double stretch minefield from Limpopo to Mwenezi River in December 2014, embarked on the clearance of one of the two stretches from Mwenezi River to Sango Border (the reinforced Ploughshare part of the mineﬁeld). Post clearance risk assessments on the completed area are underway to match the land use to the level of residual risk. Madam President, out of the initial mined area of 21 259 616m2, a total of 3 967 518m2 have so far been released and 488 APMs were recovered. The other stretch of Cordon Sanitare minefield covering an area of 7 196 038m2 has since been allocated to APOPO that is set to commence demining the area in January 2017.
b. Norwegian People’s Aid. Madam President, the NPA completed the 636 821m2 Burma Valley Mineﬁeld in March 2015 and ZIMAC [Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre] did the Quality Control (QC) in April same year. Handover was done on 09 July 2015. NPA deminers are currently clearing the Sheba Forest to Leacon Hill minefield. By 31 October 2016, a total of 884 838m2 of the initial contamination of 8 231 200m2 had been cleared and 6 218 AP mines were recovered and destroyed. The increase in annual output has been attributed to an increase in the total number of deminers from 48 in 2015 to 70 in 2016. Further increase in capacity is expected in the coming year.
c. HALO Trust. Madam President, clearance of the Musengezi to Rwenya minefield by HALO Trust has increased significantly since commencement of operations. By 31 October 2015, a total area of 609 665m2 had been cleared and 10 237 anti-personnel mines were recovered and destroyed. Madam President, the HALO Trust has since increased capacity from 90 deminers in 2014 to 240 as at 31 Oct 2016. This has seen the output figures rising to 1 391 047m2 released and a total of 23 447 APs being recovered and destroyed since during the course of operations up to 31 Oct 2016. ZIMAC has done its QC in all these cleared areas. Handover is expected once a few remaining portions are addressed.
14. … Zimbabwe remains committed to her Article 5 obligations and cherishes the support rendered by other State Parties and the GICHD in her mine action endeavours. Together we will defeat the mines and have a mine free Zimbabwe and mine free world by 2025.
[emphasis in original]