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Nec Agriculture Propel Zim Child Labour Policy

By Shingirai Vambe

In the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, a complex issue has long plagued the agricultural sector: child labor. Despite concerted efforts to address this problem, Zimbabwe remains among 168 countries struggling with high instances of child labor, particularly in tobacco farming. However, the government, led by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, has been working tirelessly with its partners, including the National Employment Council (NEC), to align laws and policies aimed at eradicating child labor.

The ministry’s recent announcement of a significant increase in its inspection budget marks a crucial step forward. This boost in funding will enhance enforcement and crack down on violators, with strengthened penalties including prison terms ranging up to 10 years. Furthermore, a comprehensive national action plan for 2023-2028 is in its final stages, set to integrate child protection and vulnerability measures into a broader policy framework.

According to Acting Permanent Secretary Clemence Zondile Vusani, the government’s strategy involves collaboration with constitutional partners and stakeholders like the NEC, Agriculture, and other relevant ministries. By working together, they aim to create a safer, more equitable environment for all children in Zimbabwe. This holistic approach acknowledges the intricate links between child labor, poverty, and education.

However, debates surrounding the distinction between child labor and household chores have sparked intriguing discussions. While some argue that involving children in farming and domestic work prepares them for future responsibilities, others fear that this practice may lead to exploitation and harm. Parents and guardians worry about being penalized for teaching their children essential skills, highlighting the need for clarity in the policy.

The drafting process remains open for refinement, with input from various stakeholders welcome before the policy is submitted to the Attorney General and Parliament for further debate and passage into law. NEC CEO David Madyausiku facilitated a productive discussion among members from different agricultural sectors, resulting in a unanimous vote in favor of the draft document. The attendees acknowledged the urgency of addressing child labor, recognizing the need for a collective effort to ensure a brighter future for Zimbabwe’s children.

As the country moves forward, the effectiveness of these measures will be crucial in ensuring a safer, more equitable environment for all. By addressing child labor, Zimbabwe aims to create a society where children can enjoy their childhood, free from exploitation and harm, and reach their full potential.