THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence has urged the government to allocate more resources towards clearing landmines, which continue to pose a great risk to humans and livestock, particularly along border areas.
The committee chairperson, Ronald Muderedzwa told the National Assembly on Tuesday that shortage of manpower and equipment in the Defence ministry hampered demining activities.
“Some minefields have snakes, a situation that poses serious challenges to deminers, hence, the need to provide them with adequate protective clothing,” he said.
“Other challenges experienced include insects, namely the morphine flies, which produce an irritating sound to the ear, thereby reducing the rate of concentration for the deminers.”
Muderedzwa said explosive remnants of the war occasionally injured people and animals, while also negatively affecting tourism.
The worst affected areas include Victoria Falls to Mlibizi, Mukumbura to Rwenya, Sheba Forest to Beacon Hill, Burma Valley, Rusitu to Muzite Mission, Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner and Border Streams.
The army demining squad was currently being assisted by organisations such as the Norwegian People’s Aid, the United States government and donations from other European countries.
The committee said the $100 000 allocated for the demining exercise each financial year was too little and could not sustain such an enormous programme.
“Government should engage the donor community to assist in the clearing of landmines, as a matter of urgency. Compensation for landmine victims should be honoured in terms of the War Victims Compensation Act. Ordinary civilians living in the border areas, where landmines were laid continue to bear the brunt of the war, long after the country was liberated,” Muderedzwa said.
Chiredzi South MP Callisto Gwanetsa (Zanu PF) said his constituency was one of the worst affected, citing Crooks Corner, which is a 53 kilometre-long minefield stretching to Sango Border Post.
“The area in my constituency affected by landmines is 40 000 hectares. You cannot farm, practice ranching or tourism. People are dying, and if they die or get injured in that area you cannot remove them. They rot there. If domestic animals stray into the area, they die there, he said.
Gwanetsa said more than 50 people in the constituency had been injured.
Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka (Zanu PF) suggested that MPs must contribute $100 each towards the demining exercise and to assist the victims.