HomeLocal NewsRising child labour cases worry govt

Rising child labour cases worry govt

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BY VANESSA GONYE

Government is confident of minimising cases of child labour at a time when the deteriorating economic situation is forcing more children out of school to join the informal sector as labourers.

Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima told NewsDay yesterday that there had been an emergence of child labour, especially in the tobacco and sugar industries.

Based on research, the two sectors have recently topped the charts in the exploitation of children in their operations.

“Government has a multi-pronged approach to solving these issues. One of the solutions is strengthening education through initiatives like BEAM [Basic Education Assistance Module], which now has a target to cover 1,5 million children,” Mavima said.

“There are also programmes for social protection targeting vulnerable households through harmonised social cash transfers to improve the conditions in the households so that they don’t push children to go and work instead of being in school.”

He said they were in the process of inspecting areas where child labour is prevalent and taking due action.

“There is the issue of inspections, where our inspectorate department has to be strengthened so it can undertake inspections and make sure they are enforcing the law as far as child labour is concerned,” Mavima said.

Zimbabwean law sets the minimum age for employment at 16, while banning children under 18 “from performing hazardous work,” but does not specifically ban children from handling tobacco.

A 2018 report by the Human Rights Watch titled A Bitter Harvest: Child Labour and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe reveals how children work in hazardous conditions, performing tasks that threaten their health and safety or interfere with their education.

The current situation, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, worsens the plight of children as more are dropping out of school and joining the informal service as labourers.

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