By Chikondi Manjawira
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Minister of Gender, Community and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, cautioned all parents, children guardians and stakeholders of a stiffer punishment probably imprisonment if found exploiting Children by engaging them in child labour.
Kaliati issued the warning during the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour organized by Tea Association of Malawi (TAML) on Saturday, July 30, 2022 at Thyolo Sports Club in Thyolo.
The day which falls on 12th of June every year, was commemorated under the theme “Universal Social Protection to end Child labor” a motto that aligns with the aspiration of Malawi goal’s with the global goals under the mandate of the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social welfare.
Kaliati did not hide her excitement over the fact that the ministry, TAML and other different stakeholders are able to acknowledge child labor as evil and violation of children’s rights.
She expects cordial coordination to completely eliminate the evil.
Kaliati continued by saying that the 2015 National Statistical research showed that 38% of children were involved in child labor with the Tea industry scoring a major contribution and it is against this background that she is pleased that TAML is leading in advocacy to end child labor.
“Tea Association and the Ministry are in the same pace, taking stock if we are implementing the contents of child policies. It is true that Tea Association is no longer employing children in their estates, because they are afraid of losing their business market.
“I want to recognize and recommend TAML for the commitment they have demonstrated over the years in the fight against child labor and the effort to ensure that the Tea industry becomes free from child labour, ” she added.
Tea Association of Malawi Limited Chairperson, Sangwani Hara said Tea Industry is closely working with other stakeholders to eliminate the vice completely.
“Child labour is a vice and a social evil, we have zero tolerance of it, if anybody is found recruiting children will be suspended from membership and also will report to the International Companies that deal with such issues and this leads to their tea not sold at international market. We called in an independent organization to come scan the industry and they agreed with us indeed there is no child labour in the industry,” he added.
Hara however, expressed worry that Tea and Tobacco appeared on the American list of products from Malawi that are tented with child labour.
“We engaged the American Embassy in Lilongwe, and the responsible officer, first to find out how they came up with that report. They told us that they relied on third party reports and did not consult us. We told them about the programs the sector have.
“They are quiet happy to see the programs we have and that we are involved with International Labour organization. So currently that status is under review and we hope that soon tea industry will be off that list,” he said.
Malawi boasts of being the pioneer for tea growing in the African continent. The industry dates back to as far as 1890 when Europeans still had abodes in Africa.
The first plantation and true diversification of tea growing in the country that was firstly courtesy of Scottish Missionaries was developed in Southern region of Malawi in the districts of Mulanje lowlands and the Thyolo highlands and that is where the pioneer recipients of the newly introduced cash crop were designated.
Tea industry is one of the country’s economic catalyst and also the largest formal sector employer in Malawi with over 50,000 workers.
It has been an industry that is heavily associated with child labor to 2015 statistical research accordance.