Region has 50 million child workers
ILO Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa director Tayo Fashoyin lamented the slow progress in Sub-Saharan Africa towards the elimination of all forms of child labour. He was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of an ILO Global Report on Child Labour in Harare. “Sub-Saharan Africa now has close to 50 million child workers ‘ more than 25 percent of African children who are at work. This a million more than four years earlier when the first Global Report on child labour was released,” he said. He said the results of a 1999 National Child Labour Survey carried out in Zimbabwe showed about 82 percent of the working children were in the agricultural sector where they were engaged to supplement household incomes and assist their parents. However, the Zimbabwean government reiterated its commitment to fighting child labour. Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare permanent secretary Lance Museka said the problem of child labour in the country could be attributed to the rising number of vulnerable children orphaned by HIV/Aids. “The government of Zimbabwe absolutely shares the sentiments outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of Child Labour,” said Museka. He said this was clearly demonstrated by the ratifications of ILO Conventions on Child Labour such as Convention 138 on minimum age and 182 on worst forms of child labour in addition to ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and African Charter on Rights and Welfare of Children. He said the government had amended the Labour Act as a way of combating child labour. Fashoyin said, in the meantime, the number of child labourers in the world had declined by 11 percent over the last four years. “Despite the difficulty of the struggle, we are beginning to see signs of a reduction in child labour, especially its hazardous forms, in many parts of the world,” he said. He said the percentage represented about 28 million fewer children at work, meaning that more boys and girls around the world were out of exploitation towards real opportunity. “The ILO Convention on the worst forms of child labour had seen the most ratifications in the shortest time for any convention in ILO history,” he said. ‘ New Ziana.