Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter
Zimbabwe is set to receive technical, material and advocacy assistance from the African Union (AU) to strengthen the landmine clearance programme.
This was said by AU Head of Defence and Security Division Ms Einas Mohammed in an interview following a visit by the AU and United Nations (UN) Landmine Assessment delegation in the country last week.
“The AU is very keen to see Zimbabwe succeed in getting rid of the landmine problem. It is one of the countries showing progress and commitment towards the UN 2025 target for a landmine-free world compared to other countries in the African region and the world at large,” she said.
“AU will be supporting Zimbabwe on a number of aspects among them resource mobilisation, equipment, technical support and providing advocacy to bring to the attention of regional and international level such as the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa and in Geneva where the mine ban convection holds its regular meetings on the landmine situation in Zimbabwe.”
Ms Mahommed said it was important for the world to know the extent of the landmine problem in Zimbabwe contaminated minefields in border lying areas. She praised the media for playing a crucial role in the fight against the landmine menace.
“We appreciate the efforts the Zimbabwe media is doing on the issue of landmines in Zimbabwe, it’s a critical issue that needs to be addressed and strongly publicised in order to save lives,” she said.
Ms Mahommed also applauded the Government for showing commitment and sense of ownership on the landmine problem.
“It is very encouraging to see the level of progress being made in clearance as well as the sense of ownership to the problem shown by the Government by formulating a landmine action centre Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC) a regulatory board to regulate all demining in the country,” she said.
Zimbabwe has since 1982 recovered and destroyed over 209 430 anti-personnel mines out of approximately three million mines planted by Rhodesian forces at the peak of the liberation struggle between 1976 and 1979.
In a brief to the AU and UN Landmine Assessment delegation on the landmine situation in Zimbabwe, director ZIMAC Colonel Bhika Mkhululi Ncube said minefields have been hampering development.
“Limitations in land use and loss of livestock are some of the challenges. Cattle represent the only real wealth, savings and insurance for a peasant farmer. Thus, loss of cattle and other livestock is a very serious concern to them.”