Victoria Falls residents have accused local hotels and tour operators of exploiting their children by hiring them as cheap labour, particularly during peak periods.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by local civic society, the residents said children were exposed to harsh working conditions.
“We are tired of what hotels are doing and we feel it’s high time we put a stop to that. They take our children for casual jobs for three months or so and they never pay them a cent. When we inquire, they tell us that our children are incompetent and they lack requisite qualifications,” one resident said.
“They depend on tips from clients and suffer all forms of abuse and that money is pooled together and shared among workers, leaving them in the cold.”
Another resident said their children were employed under the pretext of being offered short training courses during peak periods.
“Thousands of our youths, for more than a decade now, apply and they take them, especially when they are on peak days. They work as bartenders, waitresses, housekeepers and gardeners and public toilet cleaners. They leave at 5am and come back around 11pm and after the course, those cheap printed certificates have never take them anywhere,” the resident said.
“It is nothing, but exploitation and abuse of our children. It is for that reason why, in those hotels, the majority will be in black and white uniforms, those are our children being enslaved taking advantage of their desperate circumstances, so we are appealing to civic groups to intervene.”
However, Hotels Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chairman Farai Chimba denied the reports, saying hotels were operating in accordance to labour laws.
“From an industry stand point, we do skills training within each organisation, which are used to empower untrained youth straight from school in the basics of hospitality.
This is used to create a pool from which they can get entry level jobs in various hospitality avenues and investment continues on the job,” he said.