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area was briefly extended to us by the American Government and the European Union in the late 1990s, it was quickly withdrawn soon after the turn of the century… Since then, the programme has been squarely the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Engineer Corps, who are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.