Zimbabwe Struggling to clear Landmines

Jan 09, 2017
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June 18, 2015

BY VENERANDA LANGA

SENGWE — Zimbabwe is still struggling to clear more than 40 000 hectares of communal and commercial land infested with landmines, more than 35 years after they were planted during the war of liberation, NewsDay has learnt. Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Corps of Engineers Mkhululi Ncube told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs on Tuesday that about 5% of the mined area had potentially rich mineral resources. The committee is currently touring areas infested with landmines such as Sengwe, Vhumba and Forbes Border Post in Mutare. ―Since 2012 our records show that 18 people were killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war while 14 incurred injuries. It is unfortunate that most of the incidents have been attributed to the speculation that red mercury is found in mines. Such beliefs are not true as there is no red mercury in mines, it is just a myth,‖ Ncube said. He said uncleared landmines had severe impact on the lives of peasant farmers’ economic activities. ―There is land pressure on the areas adjacent to the minefields, and it is evident in areas like Mukumbura where cotton farming is prohibited due to the problem of landmines. ―Loss of livestock adds to the woes of the ordinary rural peasant, as well as lack to access to water and grazing land caused by minefields,‖ Ncube said. He said landmines also negatively impacted on tourism as an estimated 5 000 hectares of land ideal for game in parts of Gonarezhou National Park was infested with landmines. This made tourism development impossible in a huge area of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Ncube said in the absence of resources, it would take Zimbabwe 30 years to eliminate landmines, against a 2025 deadline for the complete elimination of mines.

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