Land­mines in­hibit­ing de­vel­op­ment

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Har­mony Agere

THE con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of land­mines in the coun­try has sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­uted to un­der de­vel­op­ment in af­fected com­mu­ni­ties as large swathes of eco­nom­i­cally valu­able land has been ly­ing idle for years, De­fence Min­is­ter Dr Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi has said.

Dr Sek­era­mayi made the re­marks dur­ing the han­dover cer­e­mony of the 29-kilo­me­tre stretch of land that was cleared of anti-per­son­nel land­mines by the HALO Trust in Mukum­bura.

The HALO Trust, an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion which spe­cialises in dem­i­ning, be­gan work in Mukum­bura in 2013 af­ter vol­un­teer­ing to clear an area stretch­ing from Musen­gezi to Rwenya.

So far, the Trust has cleared land mea­sur­ing 860 392 square me­tres, de­stroyed 14 742 land­mines with 14 377 peo­ple ex­pected to ben­e­fit from the ex­er­cise.

The cleared land was handed over to the Min­istry of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, Preser­va­tion and Pro­mo­tion of Cul­ture and Her­itage by Dr Sek­era­mayi.

He said life and limb have been lost to land­mines, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas along the Zim­babwe bor­der with Mozam­bique where mine­fields have ex­isted for nearly 40 years.

“The con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of the anti-per­son­nel land­mines has con­trib­uted to the un­der-de­vel­op­ment of this area as vast tracts of eco­nom­i­cally valu­able land have been ren­dered un­us­able for more than four decades now,” he said.

“It is sad­den­ing to note that when the war ended in 1980, the Smith regime left the land­mines still buried in the ground, pos­ing a great dan­ger to those re­sid­ing in close prox­im­ity to the mined ar­eas like here Mukum­bura.”

Dr Sek­era­mayi also lamented the slow pace at which the dem­i­ning process is go­ing. He said the coun­try is al­most 10 years be­hind sched­ule.

“Un­der Ar­ti­cle 5 of the Ot­tawa Con­ven­tion Zim­babwe, like all other state par­ties, was obliged to com­plete the clear­ance of all mined ar­eas in her ter­ri­tory within ten years of rat­i­fy­ing it,” he said.

“This means by March 2009, Zim­babwe was ex­pected to have cleared all mine­fields within her ter­ri­tory.”

The Rhode­sian gov­ern­ment forces adopted the in­dis­crim­i­nate use of land­mines in an ef­fort to sti­fle in­ward move­ment and re­sup­ply of arms to the lib­er­a­tion war fight­ers in the 1970s.

As a re­sult, Zim­babwe has ap­prox­i­mately 2,5 mil­lion land­mines and is ranked as one of the worst in­fested coun­tries in the world, a sit­u­a­tion which demon­strates how de­ter­mined the Ian Smith regime was in stop­ping the at­tain­ment of in­de­pen­dence by the black ma­jor­ity.

The event was also at­tended by Com­man­der De­fence Forces, Gen­eral Con­stantino Gu­vheya Chi­wenga and sev­eral Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.