CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Livingstone
ZAMBIA is one country that is benefitting from Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in terms of eliminating child labour especially in tobacco production.
This is being done through support by the Japanese Tobacco International (JTI) working collaboratively with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The partnership between Government and JTI is perhaps one of the success stories in the fight against child labour.
JTI launched ARISE, an education programme to help reduce child labour in agriculture with 14-year-old Kaoma based Makinishi Mponela being the lead child labour ambassador.
The programme is implemented in Kaoma district, Western Province, and was first developed in Malawi and Brazil through a partnership with ILO and Winrock International, an agency specialising in agricultural development.
ILO has concluded 93 new PPPs in different countries between 2012 and 2013, most of which are still ongoing such as the International Labour Standards and the Prevention of Child Labour Programme.
ILO is through PPPs supporting enterprises and buyers in the supply chain to address issues of child labour.
The PPP is a multi-stakeholder collaborative working relationship in which there is transparency, accountability, civic participation, equity and competiveness with the involvement of the promoters and intended beneficiaries.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report of 2015, Tobacco production contributed 0.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 compared to 1.5 percent of the GDP for maize and 0.7 for cotton.
This is why the Seventh National Development Plan has prioritised investment in the tobacco industry with over 7000 small scale farmers in Chipata, Kaoma and Lusaka being supported by the JTI with an investment into the economy of over US$10 million.
It is against this background that Zambia still supports the involvement of JTI and other PPPs initiatives towards the fight against child labour.
JTI is helping Zambia to curb the scourge of child labour and forced labour as close to 21.5 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide, of which 11.4 million are women and girls, and 9.5 million are men and boys according to the 2012 Labour Force Survey (LFS).
According to the survey, Zambia has over 595, 000 child workers in various economic sectors, 58 percent of which are 14 years or younger and ineligible for any form of employment.
This is against the employment of children and young persons’ Act cap 274 of the laws of Zambia.
Previously according to the 2012 LFS, the estimated total number of children involved in child labour aged between 5 and14 was around 1.2 million, threatening the achievement of universal primary education and Sustainable Development Goals.
But what is further being done by Government and other stakeholders to effectively stop the vice?
Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Nonde-Simukoko says Government has adopted a multi-faceted national approach towards eliminating child labour whose statistics remain alarmingly high especially in the agriculture sector.
Mrs Simukoko said the methods include those addressing child labour directly, education, social protection and public PPPs.
She said under the programmes to address child labour directly, the ministry has constituted a national child labour steering committee composed of government ministries, employers, trade unions and the civil society.
The minister said this here recently in a speech read on her behalf by Ministry of Labour and Social Security permanent secretary Barnaby Mulenga during the official opening of the regional conference on Child Labour Elimination and PPPs.
The conference which attracted delegates from across Africa was dubbed: ‘A common agenda towards elimination of child labour through consolidated and structured PPPs’.
Mrs Simukoko said the committee has been created to oversee child labour activities and the implementation of the Statutory Instrument and other relevant legislation.
“District child labour committees have also been constituted and charged with the responsibility of monitoring of compliance with the Statutory Instrument. Government has also engaged traditional leaders in the implementation of national child labour activities,” she said.
Other efforts by government include the adoption of a comprehensive legal and institutional framework to address the challenges related to the fight against the worst forms of child labour.
This has resulted in the creation of a specialised unit at the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) competent to deal with gender-based violence, prosecute cases of sale and trafficking of children.
Mrs Simukoko said NPA will also provide professional guidance to law enforcement agencies to ensure thorough investigation.
She said the physical presence of NPA in all the 10 provincial centres ensures timely and effective prosecution of all child labour related crimes.
Government has also developed a National Child Policy which provides core guidelines for improving the welfare and quality of life of children and for protecting their survival and developmental rights.
And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions president Nkole Chishimba said the labour movement is gratified with initiatives to promote the involvement of a partnership of public and private institutions in the fight against child labour.
Mr Chishimba said ZCTU is happy that the new initiatives are being devised to encourage the active participation of all stakeholders in promoting proactive action against child labour.
“We can together seek new ways to remove the many persistent obstacles to building a society without child labour. No child should have to work to earn a living. Every child has a right to be educated, to play and to enjoy their childhood,” he said.