War Victims Compensation Act to be amended
Columbus Mabika in Nyamapanda recently
The government is in the process of amending the War Victims Compensation Act to include landmine victims as the country seeks global recognition in landmine clearance for a landmine-free Zimbabwe by 2025.
Defense and Veterans Affairs Minister Oppa Muchinguri-Kashiri said yesterday that the move was aimed at uplifting the lives of landmine victims, most of whom had become economically inactive due to their injuries.
Speaking during the conclusion of a stakeholders dialogue on Humane De-mining for a Mine-free Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday, followed by a visit to the Rushinga and Nyamapanda mines, Minister Muchinguri said the government would take into account the plight of the victims and ensure their livelihood Will uplift
“During this meeting some of the mine victims and survivors testified to the danger posed by anti-personnel landmines not only to life and limb but also to the communities of the victims and the potential for economic development,” she said.
“Mines actually have the negative effect of impoverishing their victims by inhibiting their individual and communal productive capacity.
“It only takes adequate moral and material support from their families and other well-wishers to successfully restore the productive and self-sustaining capacity of the mine victims.
“In this regard we are in the process of amending the War Victims Compensation Act to include them in supporting landmine victims.”
He said that the socio-economic benefits being brought by mine action programs were in line with the national vision.
That said, the presence of landmines was synonymous with war zones.
“The lives of innocent civilians are always in danger from mines. As such, they are always chained to the fear of falling prey to indiscriminate weapons to move around freely,” she said.
Traditional leaders also expressed their concern over landmines, saying that the remnants of war have deprived their communities of development.
“We are very grateful to the authorities for providing us with mine risk education. For many years, we were afraid to leave our homes and farm our land because we weren’t sure it was contaminated. Now, the knowledge will reduce the risk of accidents in our community,” said Chief Ngwenyieni, Mr. Kenias Mukachana of Chiredzi South.
Mr Hlengiwe Mudzikiti, a landmine victim who now walks with an assistive device, from Dumisa village in Chiredzi South, said: “It means so much to me that I am now able to be independent and carry out basic daily activities .
“It relieves the burden on my family and I no longer feel helpless.”
During the dialogue, several regional and global humanitarian organizations involved in landmines and diplomats reiterated their pledge to work with Zimbabwe to achieve a landmine-free country in two years’ time.
The EU Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mr Jobst von Kirchmann said that the work that Zimbabwe has done in clearing the mines is second to none.
“Zimbabwe has done an extremely commendable job for its affected communities. The EU stands ready to work with Zimbabwe in landmine clearance efforts,” he said.
African Union (AU), Director Governance and Conflict Prevention Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, Ms. Patience Jenlee Chiradja said that the AU will stand with Zimbabwe in its quest for a landmine free Zimbabwe.
“I congratulate Zimbabwe for the resilience it has shown and continues to show in implementing its obligations, as the AU we will do all that needs to be done to support Zimbabwe’s efforts. Anti-personnel landmines are a class of weapons that are banned internationally under the 1997 Mine Ban Convention, to which Zimbabwe is a party.
“Zimbabwe has over the years been committed to meeting its obligations under the treaty, and is now working towards cleaning up all contaminated areas by 2025, in line with Article 5 of the Convention,” she said.
He reiterated that Zimbabwe has developed a world class strategy to achieve the landmine clearance target which the AU is proud of.
The German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Udo Volz, agreed that the progress made by Zimbabwe in eliminating the landmine threat was commendable.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Zimbabwe and ZIMAC, the African Union and the Implementation Support Unit for organizing and hosting this important dialogue.”
“For those unfamiliar with the Convention and the work of the Committee on Enhancing Cooperation and Assistance in Geneva, our efforts are geared towards the full implementation of Article 6 of the Convention.
As the name of the Committee indicates, the goal is to assist State Parties in their implementation through improving cooperation and assistance. And it is also a major commitment of the Convention.