The campaign against child labour in Zimbabwe has received a boost from capacity building and training aimed at strengthening the Coalition Against Child Labour in Zimbabwe (CACLAZ) so it can take the lead in promoting the “area-based child labour free zones” model in Zimbabwe.
The coalition, which comprises General Agricultural Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse (ANPPCAN), successfully established an area-based child labour free zone in Ward 16 in Chiredzi. This is in the sugarcane growing southern part of Zimbabwe where child labour is rampant.
A Child Labour Free Zone is a place – a village, a farm or a plantation – where no child labour exists and all children go to school. But also a place where everyone involved is convinced that children belong in school and not in the workplace.
In November last year, CACLAZ staged a month-long campaign against child labour in partnership with the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE) and Hivos as part of the human rights day commemorations.
Despite making significant progress, CACLAZ has been rocked by internal conflicts and poor coordination among its members, which threatened to undo some of the gains in the ongoing campaign against child labour. The capacity building and training helped CACLAZ’s leadership to reflect on their mandate and how the coalition can work more effectively to shine a spotlight on the growing problem of child labour in Zimbabwe.
Specifically, the capacity building workshop made the coalition members review the clarity of the coalition’s purpose and direction, and the specific steps needed to implement agreed roles and responsibilities.
“We intend to have improved capacity and operations as an organisation once our roles as partners are clearly defined. Also, this will help us assert ourselves as champions of the area-based approach to child labour free zones,” said Pascal Masocha, the national coordinator of CACLAZ.
Masocha added that the training will enhance the process of changing community perceptions and behaviours towards child labour – a growing problem in the country.
Zimbabwe has been ranked one of the top 10 countries where child labour is most prevalent, according to an international report by UNICEF. It is estimated that 13 percent of Zimbabwean children are engaged in child labour, which the International Labour Organization (ILO) defines as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to children and that interferes with their schooling.
Prevailing social norms, lack of workers’ and other human rights, harmful traditional practices, exclusion and discrimination of certain groups and poorly functioning educational systems have been cited as key drivers of child labour
Established in 2007, CACLAZ is the leading organisation in Zimbabwe working to localise global principles, including lobbying and advocating for policy change, aimed at eliminating child labour.