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Cablegate: Update of Child Labor Information for Zimbabwe

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

251438Z Aug 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001669

SIPDIS

DOL/ILAB FOR TFAULKNER, DRL/IL FOR MHARPOLE

E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON ZI
SUBJECT: Update of Child Labor Information for Zimbabwe

Ref: a) State 193266

b) 02 Harare 2293
c) 02 State 168607

1. Summary. Given the ongoing political, economic, and
governance crises in Zimbabwe, little attention has been
paid to elimination of child labor. Zimbabwe has ratified
both ILO Convention 138 (Minimum Age Convention)and ILO
Convention 182 (Convention on the Prohibition and
Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor), and both
conventions are supported by existing law. As stated ref b,
however, increased enforcement of existing child labor laws
awaits resources. One significant development during the
past year is the passage of the long-awaited Labor Relations
Amendment Act. However, although that law does incorporate
previous statutory rules into the resultant "Labour Act," it
does little to add any new protection to existing laws
affecting child labor. Specific sections of the amended
Labour Act are cited below. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
A: LAWS AND REGULATIONS PROSCRIBING THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD
LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. The previous Section 11 of the Labor Relations Act
entitled "Contracts by Young Persons" was repealed and
replaced by the new Section 11 in the Labour Act,
"Employment of Young Persons." This section also
incorporates legislation previously enacted as Statutory
Instrument 155 of 1999, Employment of Children and Young
Persons. Under the law, as amended, a child can work
between the ages of 13 and 15 as an apprentice or if the
work is "an integral part of [or in conjunction with] a
course of training or technical or vocational education."
The law further states that no person under 18 shall perform
any work "likely to jeopardize that person's health, safety
or morals." The status of children between 15 and 18 years
of age is not directly addressed, but presumably 15 years of
age is still the minimum for light work, work other than
apprenticeship, or work associated with vocational
education.

3. The Labour Act also prohibits forced labor in Section
4A. However, the following category is excluded from the
definition of "forced labor": "(2)(c) any labour required
from a member of a disciplined force in pursuance of his
duties as such or any labour required of any person by
virtue of an enactment in place of service as a member of
any such force or service..." Although the legislative
basis for compulsory service in the National Youth Service
(see Para 9) is not clear, presumably this section would
exclude such service from a definition of "forced labor."
Similarly, the following category is excluded from the
definition of "forced labor": "(d) any labour required by
way of parental discipline."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
B: LAWS AND REGULATIONS FOR THE IMPELEMENTATION AND
ENFORCEMENT OF PROSCRIPTIONS AGAINST THE WORST FORMS OF
CHILD LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. Remedies continue to be applied under existing law,
since separate legislation to implement ILO Convention 182
has not been developed. Under the amended Labour Act,
persons violating Section 11, Employment of Young Persons,
"shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not
exceeding thirty thousand dollars or to imprisonment not
exceeding two years or to both such fine and such
imprisonment." Given the ongoing economic crisis, with
inflation topping 399.5% and the parallel exchange rate
running at $5000:$1, a fine of Z$30,000 equals US $6.00 --
not a great deterrent. Persons violating Section 4A,
Prohibition of Forced Labor, "shall be guilty of an offence
and liable to a fine not exceeding level seven [not defined]
or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or
to both such fine and such imprisonment."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
C: FORMAL INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS TO INVESTIGATE AND
ADDRSS COMPLAINTS RELATING TO THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ----------

5. No new formal institutional mechanisms have been
established since last year's report. Complaints regarding
child labor continue to be handled by the same authority
which oversees labor inspection as a whole. This area will
not improve without targeted legislation and significant new
resources.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
D: SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO PREVENT THE ENGAGEMENT OF CHILDREN IN
THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ------------
6. Few new social initiatives to prevent child labor have
been implemented. Private education costs have continued to
spiral out of the reach of even many middle-class families,
and some poorer families have been forced to take their
children out of public schools due to prohibitive school
fees. Food security and provision of healthcare continue to
decline, and children continue to be called upon to work in
support of families devastated by hunger, illness, and
premature death. The continuing HIV/AIDS pandemic, with
approximately 3000 people dying from AIDS-related causes
each week (2001 estimate), exacerbates the problem. Some
children are forced to work as heads-of-household when the
primary wage-earners succumb to the disease. Due the
imposition of a universal AIDS levy on all formal sector
wage-earners, however, some programs to ease the burdens of
HIV/AIDS affected children or child-headed households have
been created. Monies from the AIDS levy have been allocated
through the National Aids Council to District Action
Committees for some specific programs, including: orphan
assistance, support for costs of schools (including food,
shelter and clothing), income generation projects for
children or orphans of AIDS patients, and research for
identifying orphan needs and problems.


--------------------------------------------- -----------
E. COMPREHENSIVE POLICY AIMED AT THE ELIMINATION OF THE
WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR
--------------------------------------------- -----------

7. Despite continued agreement between the GOZ, labor and
employers as to the necessity of a comprehensive strategy to
eliminate the worst forms of child labor, no such policy has
yet been developed. Given the complex and interlinked
crises currently facing Zimbabwe, the resources for
implementing a comprehensive policy do not exist.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
F. CONTINUAL PROGRESS TOWARD ELIMINATING THE WORST FORMS OF
CHILD LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ------------

8. There has been no discernible progress on the part of
the GOZ toward eliminating the worst forms of child labor
since last year's report (ref b). Due to the continuing
economic collapse, as well as the increasing impact of the
HIV/AIDS mortality rate on family structures, many more
children are required to work in order to ensure the
survival of their families. However, with the exceptionally
high unemployment rate (currently estimated at over 75%),
working children continue to compete for formal-sector jobs
with the adult population. As a result, most child labor
occurs in the growing informal sector. Some working
children find employment on the remaining commercial
(primarily horticultural) farms, while most continue to work
at illegal gold panning, street vending, watching cars for
tips, begging, collecting firewood, and performing domestic
or gardening work. Other work, which may or may not earn
money, includes herding, working on family garden plots,
fishing, hunting, providing childcare, or helping in a
family business.

9. Compulsory service in the National Youth Service program
remains problematic (ref b). To date, no legal basis for
the "compulsory" nature of this service has ever been
articulated. Currently, it is GOZ policy for the service to
be considered "compulsory," and while nobody has actually
been jailed for refusing the service, entrance to most GOZ-
supported tertiary training programs and the armed and civil
service now requires a certificate from the training camps.
One teacher training college in Masvingo was advised last
year that its new incoming class was to be drawn solely from
a list of National Youth Service graduates, displacing
students who had already been admitted.

10. Although this service does not arise to the level of
forced labor as child soldiers, the graduates of Border Gezi-
style training camps (locally labeled as "Green Bombers")
have been publicly used as pro-GOZ adjunct militia. For
instance, during an opposition-called stayaway in June,
hundreds of the youths were deployed in Harare in a
successful bid to prevent opposition supporters from
gathering for a mass demonstration. Youth militia members
have been highly visible in their role as "security" for
food relief operations and "patrols" during by-elections.
Many Zimbabwe residents fear the youths, who often travel in
groups, wearing paramilitary garb, and carrying sticks,
batons, or sjamboks (whips). A number of the urban
residents who were reportedly harassed and beaten during the
lead-up to the most recent by-elections in Harare indicated
that Green Bombers were behind the harassment. While some
Zimbabweans urge their sons and daughters to avoid the
compulsory service, others (particularly the more
impoverished) have supported their children's entrance into
the training camps in the hopes of better access to GOZ-
operated university education or civil and military service
jobs.

-------
COMMENT
-------

11. While some progress has been seen in the development of
programs to support AIDS/HIV affected children, very little
measurable progress has been made in eliminating the worst
forms of child labor since last year's report. As stated
last year, the problem of child labor has been eclipsed by
the protracted economic decline in Zimbabwe. The conclusion
from last year's report remains applicable: the GOZ will be
unable to address the elimination of the worst forms of
child labor until it is able to alleviate at least some of
the other interlinked crises currently facing the country.

Sullivan

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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