Citation(s) from the literature library

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. 2004 ‘The Firearms Act of 1957 - Zimbabwe.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa, pp. 313-14. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. 1 October

Relevant contents

The purchase, possession, manufacture and sale of firearms and ammunition are regulated by the Firearms Act of 1957. This Act states that civilians who wish to legally own firearms are required to submit an application for a firearm certificate. According to a Saferworld report, the Firearms Act makes no provision for the control of state-owned weapons.(45) The authors of this chapter could not identify legislation which pertains to such controls…

In order to secure a legal firearm a licence application process has to be undertaken. This process is described as follows: the applicant approaches the nearest police station with relevant documentation from a firearms dealer, to indicate that the firearm which the applicant intends to purchase is indeed a legal firearm. The police scrutinise all relevant documentation and the firearm itself. They also assess the mental state of the applicant. The application is then forwarded to the regional Registrar of Firearms who, after satisfying himself that all requirements have been met, forwards the application and all other relevant documentation to the Controller of Firearms in Harare.

If the applicant is judged fit to be a firearm owner, a firearm certificate is issued on the prescribed form, which specifies the conditions under which the firearm is to be held, and the nature and serial number of the firearm. The document also states how much ammunition the licence holder may purchase or hold at any one time. One certificate may be issued for both a firearm and its ammunition, but a separate certificate is required for each firearm.

In order for a firearm licence to be issued the firearm has to bear a mark or a number of identification. The Act prohibits the pawning of firearms and ammunition.

The Saferworld report notes that the Firearms Act of 1957 had been amended a number of times, but the amendments were not made with a view to aligning it with the provisions of international arms control agreements. The report notes that "the day-to-day operation of the firearm control system does not follow the Act",(46) particularly with regard to the requirement for the renewal of licences. The administrative burden of following up expired licences seems to have become too great for the police force to maintain.

With regard to the destruction of surplus firearms, a representative of the Zimbabwean police, who attended a workshop organised by the Institute for Security Studies in 2002 reported that since the 1990s,

"There have been two three-month amnesties in Zimbabwe - one in 1992 and another in 2002. Surrendered firearms are destroyed by the Zimbabwe army in the presence of the police. Before destruction, which is done by melting down the weapons, an investigation is made into the reasons for surrendering the arms. It takes about six months from the time the weapon is given in to when it is destroyed. The firearms are stored for three months at provincial armouries before being taken to the national armoury, where they are registered. Both the army and police have undertaken surplus destruction exercises."(47)


45) Cross, P. et al., Law of the Gun: An audit of firearms control legislation in the SADC region,
SaferAfrica and Saferworld, June 2003, p52.

46) Ibid.

47) Zimbabwean Police representative at the ISS Workshop on assessing the small arms research needs in southern Africa, October 2001.

ID: Q8831

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