Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and a non-governmental organisation have warned that Malawi risks not meeting the 2025 target to reduce child labour due to failure to implement measures to end the vice.
The sentiments by MCTU and Winrock International, expressed during the commemoration of the Child Labour Day in Rumphi on Saturday, come amid revelations that there are 2.1 million child labourers in the country.
The two organisations also appealed to the Malawi Government to speed up approval of National Action Plan on Child Labour and Child Labour Policy as well as introduce stiffer penalties to effectively eliminate child labour by 2025.
In his remarks, MCTU programmes officer Joseph Kankhwangwa said it was not easy for the country to fight child Labour.
He said the Ministry of Labour, Skills and Innovation should be given adequate financial and human resources to fight child labour.
Said Kankhwangwa: “The National Action Plan is very crucial at this point, considering that as a country we have not come up with a Child Labour Policy to guide us. The National Action Plan will help guide different stakeholders on fighting child labour.
“Without the policy and action plan we will be fighting child labour without proper guidance and direction.”
Winrock International regional director (Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi) Dalitso Baloyi lamented weak punishments in the country’s laws on child labour.
He said: “Our penalties are very weak. If one can look at what they benefit from employing a child and the punishment, you will see that the punishments are not punitive. There is need to review our laws so that they are punitive enough.”
On his part, Ministry of Labour, Skills and Innovation Labour Commissioner Hlale Nyangulu admitted that the country’s laws are not punitive enough to help end child labour and ought to be reviewed.
He said government is looking into the policy and national action plan, but said what is needed at the moment is for everyone to stand up against child labour.
The launch of a strategic planning project on Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in April this year revealed that the fight against child labour practices in the country is stagnating.