Malawi Reducing Child Labor - Govt, ILO

ILO and govt officials at Makwasa estate ILO and govt officials at Makwasa estate - pic by Luka Beston

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labor, Wezi Kayira says Malawi is on the right path in eradicating child labor.

Kayira disclosed that labor inspections have shown that there is zero child labor tolerance in the formal sector, while expressing concern that the vice remains prevalent in the informal industry particularly, in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

He said this on Thursday in Thyolo when the International Labor Organization (ILO) Director for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, Wellington Chibede, visited Makandi and Makwasa tea estates to appreciate child labor and gender equality compliance.

Kayira said the country has managed to eliminate child labor in the formal economy due to adequate legal and policy frameworks, save for informal sector where the vice remains prevalent.

"In the formal economy, there is a good progress that has been made that a number of employers are self-compliant in terms of addressing issues of child labor. However, it is the informal sector that still continues to have incidents of child labor," Kayira said.

Chibede said ILO is impressed with efforts to end child labor in the country, further encouraging Malawi to promote local products to avoid labor exports and forex depletion.

"I feel embarrassed as an African that we don't promote our own products even in government cycles. Promoting foreign products, we export labor and deplete the foreign reserves that we have," he hinted.

Tea Association of Malawi (TAML) Chief Executive Officer, Tonda Chinangwa, said the National Identity system have helped them to achieve the zero tolerance on child labor in the tea industry.

He said: "No person below the age of 18 can be employed within tea fields and for the factory, one has to be above 21 years of age. So at recruitment, one has to bring the Malawi national ID".

Meanwhile, Employer's Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) director, George Khaki has attributed growing poverty to the vice in the informal sector.

Khaki has on the other hand hailed the Tea Association of Malawi for providing social amenities to the communities which are key in reducing child labor, citing an example of Eastern Produce of Malawi which has constructed seven primary and secondary schools in Mulanje and Thyolo including clinics.

ILO is implementing an Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chain in Africa (ACCEL Africa) project in a bid to end child labor.

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