Swaziland commits to national action against child labour

By | 9 April 2008

MANZINI, Swaziland (1 April 2008) – Swaziland’s national plan to tackle child labour was endorsed today (Tuesday April 1) by the country’s Programme Advisory Committee on Child Labour, with strong backing from the Acting Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Mr Matiti Fakudze, and the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Mr Njabulo Mabuza.

The Programme Advisory Committee comprises representatives from a range of key ministries and other stakeholders outside of government.

This plan, which took about four years to develop – through research and extensive consultation – will now be submitted for consideration to the Labour Advisory Board, and then by government.

Minister Fakudze, speaking on behalf of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment (who coordinates activities under labour-related conventions), said that the Swaziland government would strive to activate the 50-plus steps outlined in the national plan, called the Strategy and Action Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.

He noted that limited resources might present an obstacle, but asserted: “It is within our capacity to make Swaziland a country without the worst forms of child labour. But government cannot do it alone. All the social partners and other stakeholders have a very important role to play.”

Minister Mabuza welcomed the plan as an instrument that could help Swaziland meet its international commitments as a party to International Labour Organisation conventions on child labour. These commitments include eradicating the worst forms of child labour by the year 2015.

He noted that Swaziland had “accepted the responsibility of complying with the provisions” of the conventions it had ratified. But, said Minister Mabuza, there were additional reasons for fighting the practice of child labour.

“Swaziland’s commitment is also a matter of necessity. . . . If we fail our children in their time of need today, our future as a nation will be compromised.”

Minister Mabuza urged participants at the meeting – officials from government departments, representatives of business, labour and civil society organisations, including diplomats and representatives of United Nations agencies – not only to deliberate on the action plan but to commit themselves to putting it into effect.

There is general agreement that Swaziland has a problem of child labour. Recent studies have found incidents of the following worst forms of child labour in Swaziland: commercial sexual exploitation of children, child trafficking (usually for purposes of domestic work), and children being used by adults to commit crime.

Swaziland is the fourth country in Southern Africa to endorse a national plan to combat child labour. It follows in the footsteps of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

Governments in all four of these countries entered into agreements with the International Labour Organisation to set up a technical support facility, the programme Towards the Elimination of worst forms of Child Labour (TECL). TECL has assisted countries to undertake a process of research and consultation, and to bring this to fruition in the form of national programmes against child labour. In the case of South Africa, which already had a national Child Labour Programme of Action, TECL focused on supporting implementation of the programme.
For more information contact:
Mr Jinno Nkhambule, chair of the Swaziland Programme Advisory Committee on Child Labour, +268 404-5155
Mr Dawie Bosch, Chief Technical Advisor, programme Towards the Elimination of the worst forms of Child Labour, International Labour Organisation +27 82-557-8597
For key documents regarding child labour in Swaziland, and a copy of the Swazi national plan on child labour, go to www.child-labour.org.za.

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