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Child Labour Indaba - A platform for inter-sectoral collaboration

The Child Labour Indaba took place on February 29, 2024, at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare. It brought together National Employment Councils (NECs), civil society, trade unions, independent constitutional institutions, international organisations, with a specific focus on generating actionable solutions to combat child labour in economic sectors with high child labour prevalence (mining, retail, agriculture and domestic).

The overarching objective of the workshop was to garner support and secure sector-specific commitments for the child labour component within the National Action Plan (NAP), transforming the national plan into a catalyst for comprehensive and positive systemic change.

The specific objectives of the workshop were:

  • To raise awareness on the child labour component of the NAP.
  • To obtain sectoral commitments, mobilize support and engender stakeholder ownership of the child labour component of the NAP.
  • To contribute to a roadmap, with specific sectoral commitments, responsibilities and concrete actions and milestones for the implementation and realization of the goals of the child labour component of the NAP by 2027.

Moreover, the representative for the ILO Country Office for Zimbabwe and Namibia, Mr. Adolphus Chinomwe, highlighted the global and regional call to actions against child labour made in recent years, and restated the importance of collaboration between governments, employers and workers to eliminate child labour from the supply chains.

The National Coordinator of the National Employment Councils provided opening remarks to the Indaba, by conveying the paramount role of the NECs in the fight against child labour, as the promoters and keepers of industrial harmony to enhance productivity across diff erent sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, mining, retail, etc.

Additionally, the representatives of the NECs for mining, retail, agriculture and domestic work presented their research and led the discussion of the findings with relevant stakeholders, aiming at sectoral commitment towards the elimination of child labour in each supply chain.

Research in the tobacco sector found that the industry has been making significant strides in identifying and mitigating child labour related risks, fulfilling its Action pledge (2021) to accelerate actions against child labour. Key successes include a gazetted hazardous tasks list, a new sustainability unit for the Tobacco Industry & Marketing Board (TIMB), the Tobacco Leaf Exporters Association of Zimbabwe (TLEAZ) coordinated Child Labour Working Group (incorporating TIMB, TLEAZ, Workers Unions, NEC and grower unions) and development and adoption of a tobacco industry Agricultural Labour Practices Code. Consistent trainings and monitoring of child labour as well as initiatives to enhance attendance and retention in schools have been reported by TLEAZ members, who constitute a minimum of 75% of the contracted tobacco.

Finally, the plenary discussion brought together all the sectors, so they could share their commitments, insights, and challenges, whilst defining a common roadmap to eradicate child labour in high-risk sectors across Zimbabwe. Overall, the Indaba was a platform to collaboration towards a more concerted and effective eff ort to combat child labour in Zimbabwe through the active involvement of multiple stakeholders and the alignment of their actions with the objectives of the child labour component of the National Action Plan.

Follow up of Child Labour Indaba commitments

Based on the outcomes of the workshop, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW) will mobilise resources for the tracking and periodic reporting of progress towards sectoral commitments. This accountability mechanism, under the oversight of the National Steering Committee on Child Labour, will play a pivotal role in achieving the objectives outlined in the child labour component of the NAP.

Moreover, the National Employment Councils will consolidate their commitments per sector and submit them to the MoPSLSW for action and consideration . The ECLT Foundation will also renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the MoPSLSW to ensure the continuity of these efforts.

Read the article that The Herald published on March 5, 2024.