By Tawanda Mangoma
The country’s largest sugar producer, Tongaat Huletts Zimbabwe has threatened not to process sugar cane supplied by private sugar growers who engage in unorthodox labour practices among them employing children at their farms.
The development comes as issues of child labour are reportedly rising in Chiredzi where children from surrounding communities are reportedly dropping out of school to seek employment in the fields.
In a statement recently, THZ said all farmers must comply with the directive.
“Child labour is a violation of fundamental human rights and it hinders children’s development potential leading to lifelong physical or psychological damage,” said the organisation.
“It is the exploitation of children through a form of work that denies children their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school and is mentally and socially harmful.
“In line with the latest draft of the Sugarcane Milling Agreement, the farmer and the miller shall commit themselves to comply, without exceptions, with the fundamental principles forbidding the engagement of children in any commercial activities involving the production of sugarcane, sugar or associated products on farms, sugar mills, factories and or any other land or facilities owned or controlled by farmers and millers.”
According to the company, those implicated in child labour will lose membership with the Zimbabwe Sugar Association, fail to access inputs and tillage support while their milling quota would be affected as well.
Farmers welcomed the move yesterday.
“We must motivate our workers to send their children to school and this would reduce the risk of having small children undertaking duties at our farms.
“Every farmer must be at the forefront of motivating his or her employees to send their children to school without compromise,” said Mrs Bernadette Tamba, a farmer from Mkwasine. The Chronicle