ZANU PF bigwigs, among them Cabinet ministers, who grabbed vast tracts of sugarcane plantations from Tongaat Hulett in the Lowveld were reportedly employing under-age workers, as cheap labour, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa heard last week.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Plantation workers’ representatives and child rights activists told Mnangagwa and Justice ministry permanent secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, at a district constitutional advocacy meeting held in the Lowveld town last week, that the practice was rampant on plantations owned by ruling party officials.
“I do not know if you are aware that there are some senior people, among them ministers here employing child labourers in their plantations and the children are no longer going to school?” a child rights activist, Magret Chanaiwa, asked.
Mabhiza said the government was unaware of the practice and urged residents to report the cases to the police.
“Government is not aware of the child labour claims,” she said.
“Section 75 of the Constitution talks of the universal right to education for every child.
“You should take steps to report such issues as government is represented at every level, from ward, then you have legislators among others.
“If you see school-going children absconding because they are child labourers, report the matter.
“If they work at ministers’ farms, it will be corruption. This is a social issue, which can be resolved without the VP.”
In its 2014 report, the Coalition Against Child Labour in Zimbabwe (CALCAZ) observed that child labourers in Chiredzi had stopped going to school.
CALCAZ has launched a campaign to bring back the child labourers back to school.