By Alfred Mthandizi
It is not a secret that Malawi tenants are facing social and economic challenges. The Malawi Government in Ntchisi recently rescued over 600 children from the jaws of child labor.
International Labor Organization defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children.
Mayenje said the problem in Notches is that most parents do not appreciate importance of education that is why the he said it was not easy for Government to undertake the exercise.
Research by the International Labor Organizations (ILO) indicates that there are more children in the tobacco growing districts of Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Mchinji and Lilongwe. He said “most children here are mostly sent by parents themselves to work in the fields.” said Mayenje.
Mayenje has since commended other stakeholders for the job well done in enforcing the laws regarding the child labor. Rumphi Senior Labor Assistant officer, Antony Kalagho, confirmed to Nyasa Times that Rumphi alone has 6,000 children working in the Tobacco fields.
Kalagho said Rumphi District Labor office has set a district Taskforce aimed at dealing with child labor. “We are aware of child labor in tobacco estates. We have set up a District labor committee from various stakeholders and shortly we will start up efforts to rescue them, as you are aware this is not a small job,”
Wyson Chisale of Fundoimodzi Estate, a manager from Traditional Authority Katumbi, Rumphi said who is also a victim of child labor said he came to the estate in 2009 when he was only 16 years old but now he is a grown-up person married with three kids.
Raphael Sandram is General Secretary for Tobacco and Allied Union of Malawi. Sandram said there is need for government to put in stringent measures in dealing with issues of child labor. He said there is need for our Members of Parliament and others stakeholders to take delibarate measures in dealing with the problem.
Lucky Mfungwe, Economic Governance Program Officer at Centre for Social Concern. Mfungwe start the interview by Commending Media Network on Tobacco fir touring the Tobacco estates which has exposed the gray areas.
“The issue of tenancy and child labor is what we have been fighting. The tenant’s conditions are pathetic. As a Union, we see that there is a need to find solutions to deal with poor housing, food shortage and lack of schools including medication. As center we have advocated for the improvement of economic well-being of our tenants and explored ways on how to deal with child labor. We collaborated with Ministry of Labor to lobby and address the tenancy problem which harbors child labor. We are currently lobbying for an amendment to the employment act so that tenants should be able to receive money without necessarily waiting for 12 months.” said Mfungwe