The Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has called on government to urgently work on domesticating legislation on child labour to help combat the vice.
MCTU general secretary Pontius Kalichero said this yesterday in Kasungu on the sidelines of a three-day stakeholders’ training workshop, the union organised.
Kalichero observed that the country, like many others in the region, has appropriate policies and laws to help combat the vice, but “they remain white elephants unless they are domesticated and enforcement is supported.”
He said there is need to depart from just ratifying such international policies and charters just for the sake of it.
“We don’t have to do it just for the sake of ‘belonging’. Being a signatory of such charters must always emanate from the needs and gaps in the country’s attempts in bringing about positive change and not otherwise,” he said.
Some of the legislation and policy framework Malawi adopted and subscribe to in curb ing child labour, include the Child Protection Policy, Employment Act, the National Child Labour policy and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS).
The country is said to have about 1.5 million children aged between five and 17 as being economically active, 600 000 of whom are employed in sectors of tobacco farming, fishery and forestry.
Commenting on the issue, MCTU deputy director of education Jessie Ching’oma said the recommended prevalence rate of child labour in the country is zero.
“If we are serious about promoting a child labour-free economy and the rights of children, we can’t be wasting time comparing our prevalence rate with any country; let alone neighbouring ones, claiming that we are better off.” she said.