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Zimbabwe

2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Minimal Advancement

In 2013, Zimbabwe made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Zimbabwe ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Children in Armed Conflict, as well as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. However, children in Zimbabwe continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and mining. The Government did not sufficiently fund large-scale social programs such as the Basic Education Assistance Model Program. In addition, Zimbabwe continues to lack specific social programs targeting sectors in which the worst forms of child labor are most prevalent. Gaps remain in the country's legal framework against child labor, and education is not compulsory or free, which increases children's vulnerability.

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I. Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of Child Labor

Children in Zimbabwe are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture and mining. The Government's 2011 Child Labour Survey report released in 2013 concluded that the worst forms of child labor are increasing and should be a cause for concern.(1-3) Data on key indicators on children's work and education are not available from the sources used in this report.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education
Working children, ages 7 to 14: Unavailable
School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%): Unavailable
Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%): Unavailable
Primary completion rate (%): Unavailable

Source for primary completion rate: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (4)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis, 2014. (5)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children's Work by Sector and Activity
Sector/Industry Activity
Agriculture Production of tea,* cotton,* tobacco,* and sugarcane* (3, 6-9)
Fishing,* activities unknown (1, 6, 8)
Working in herding cattle* and forestry* (1, 3, 6)
Industry Mining gold,* chrome,* and tin,* and extracting material from underground passages and quarries*† (3, 6, 7, 10, 11)
Services Street work, activities unknown* (3, 8, 9, 12)
Domestic service* (3, 8)
Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡ Smuggling drugs (3, 6)
Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (6)
Working in agriculture and domestic service as a result of human trafficking* (6)

*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
†Determined hazardous by national law or regulation, not including categorical worst forms of child labor.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.

The Government's 2011 Child Labour Survey found that of children 5 to 14 years of age engaged in economic activity, 95.6 percent worked in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; with 95.9 percent living in rural areas.(1) According to UNICEF, approximately 100,000 of Zimbabwe's 1.3 million orphans survive on their own in child-headed households.(13) This breakdown of the family unit, as well as poverty, were major factors in children's vulnerability to child labor.(1, 3, 13) The lack of birth registration prevents children from obtaining education and can lead to children entering the workforce at a young age.(3, 6) In addition, the deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy and manufacturing sector has also led to a recent increase in child labor.(8)



II. Legal Framework for the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Zimbabwe has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor
Convention Ratification
ILO C. 138, Minimum Age
ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor
UN CRC
UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict
UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

In 2013, Zimbabwe ratified the UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict, as well as the Palermo Protocol.

The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).

Table 4. Laws and Regulations Related to Child Labor
Standard Yes/No Age Related Legislation
Minimum Age for Work Yes 15 Labour Relations Act of 2002 (14)
Minimum Age for Hazardous Work Yes 18 Labour Relations Act of 2002 (14)
List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children Yes   Children's Protection and Adoption Act (15)
Prohibition of Forced Labor Yes   Constitution; Labour Relations Act (14, 16)
Prohibition of Child Trafficking No    
Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Yes   Sexual Offenses Act; the Children's Protection and Adoption Act; the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act (3, 6, 15, 17)
Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities Yes   Criminal Code (6)
Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment Yes 18 National Service Act of 1979 (18)
Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service Yes 16 National Service Act of 1979 (18)
Compulsory Education Age No    
Free Public Education No    

Section 11(1)(a) and (3)(b) of the Labour Relations Act, allowing for the employment of apprentices at the age of 13, is not in conformity with the ILO Minimum Age Convention.(14, 19) Research was unable to determine if children in the informal sector have the same legal protections as children working in the formal sector.(19) Zimbabwe has no permanent legislation specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons for purposes other than sexual exploitation.(6, 20, 21) In January 2014, President Mugabe passed a Temporary Measure Regulation using Emergency Powers on trafficking in persons. The temporary measure prohibits some forms of sex and labor trafficking and mandates the establishment of centers for trafficking victims and an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee; however key definitions in the regulation are inconsistent with the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.(22) Zimbabwean law does not provide free schooling or establish a compulsory age for education for children. Section 19 (2)(d) of the new Constitution ratified in 2013 includes a right to a basic Government-funded education, but notes that the Government does not have to provide it due to a lack of resources.(3, 6) School fees are often prohibitively expensive and limit access to education.(1, 3, 8) The Government failed to meet its obligation of supporting secondary school students with school fees.(3, 6, 23) Although Section 19 (3)(a-b) of the new Constitution addresses child labor by requiring legislation to protect children from exploitative labor practices and protecting children from work that is inappropriate for their age or could harm their well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral, or social development, laws have not been passed or amended in accordance with these Constitutional provisions.(6, 16)



III. Enforcement of Laws on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement
Organization/Agency Role
Ministry of Labor (MOL) Department of Social Welfare Enforce labor laws and investigate labor-related complaints, including complaints involving child labor.(6)
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Share responsibility with the MOL and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MOJ) for enforcing laws against the worst forms of child labor of a criminal nature.(6) Address issues related to child labor through Victim Friendly Units in every district. Conduct transnational trafficking investigations through an anti-trafficking desk at the Interpol National Central Bureau office.(6)
Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs (MOJ) Oversee all courts, including labor courts. Address trafficking and child victim cases through Victim Friendly Courts.(6)

Research found no evidence that law enforcement agencies in Zimbabwe took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2013, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) employed approximately 123 labor inspectors for enforcing labor-related laws, including child labor laws, although many labor inspector positions are unfilled due to high turnover.(3, 6) While the funding and training of labor inspectors has increased in recent years, these resources remain inadequate for the inspectors to be able to investigate and pursue violations of child labor laws. The MOL reports that labor inspectors lack the necessary resources to carry out inspections, such as office facilities for maintaining records, transportation, and fuel.(3, 6) In addition, the MOL does not disaggregate data on labor law violations by age.(6) Therefore, the number of violations related to child labor is unknown.

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2013, information was not available regarding the number of investigators, investigations, arrests, or prosecutions related to criminal laws on child labor, including its worst forms.(6) The government did not appear to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses; though the government provided minimal information on its efforts.



IV. Coordination of Government Efforts on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor
Coordinating Body Role & Description
National Steering Committee to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor Address the worst forms of child labor. Chaired by the MOL and includes several government ministries, international organizations, and civil society groups, such as worker and employer organizations.(24)
Ministry level committee on children's issues Coordinate government ministries related to children's issues, separate from the National Steering Committee. Meet on a quarterly basis.(6)
Inter-ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons Create a national action plan on trafficking in persons (TIP) that will be chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs with participation from a large collection of Government entities. Mandated by the President's temporary TIP regulation.(22)
National Task Force on Street Children Work on street children issues.(6)

In 2013, due to a lack of funding, the National Steering Committee did not meet during the reporting period, and research did not find evidence that the task forces listed in Table 6 were active during 2013.(24)



V. Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Zimbabwe has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Policies Related to Child Labor
Policy Description
National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor (NAP) Strengthen the analysis of child labor issues and the creation of an entity to coordinate responses to the findings of this analysis. Consists of three thematic areas including education assistance, poverty assistance through a cash transfer scheme, and health assistance.(6)
UN Development Assistance Framework 2012-2015* Provide support to the Government regarding the utilization of the Child Labor Survey in development planning.(25)

*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.

In 2013, the Government took no action to implement the NAP. A member of the National Steering Committee reported that resources have not been allocated to implement the National Action Plan to Combat Child Labor (NAP). (2, 6) In addition, research did not demonstrate that the results of the Child Labor Survey have been used to inform policies and programs in Zimbabwe.



VI. Social Programs to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Research found no evidence of programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms. The Government funds and participates in other programs that may have an impact on child labor, including its worst forms.

Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
Program Description
Phase II of the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (NAP OVC II)* Government program includes a focus on equity and access to quality education for children and aims to assist 80,000 people, including by providing protection services to 25,000 children. Provides a cash transfer program that encourages families to keep children in school.(12, 26, 27) With funding from the European Commission and the Governments of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Britain, provides food and health services to high-risk families, including child-headed households. Also provides for protection services for child victims of abuse, violence, and exploitation.(12, 26, 27)
Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) *‡ Government program, supported by the Department for International Development (DFID), provides basic financial assistance for costs such as tuition and examination fees. Aims to keep children in school and to recruit children to enroll who lack access to school as a result of economic hardship.(20, 27, 28)

*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of Zimbabwe.

Research found no evidence of programs to address the worst forms of child labor in mining or agriculture.



VII. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Zimbabwe (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including Its Worst Forms
Area Suggested Action Year(s) Suggested
Laws Amend the Labour Relations Act to comply with the ILO Minimum Age Convention by raising the minimum age of employment for apprentices to at least 14. 2013
The Government should ensure that children working in the informal sector benefit from the same child labor protections as children working in the formal sector. 2013
Enact permanent anti-trafficking legislation to bar trafficking of children for both sexual and labor exploitation. 2009 - 2013
Establish free and compulsory education for children to age 15, consistent with Zimbabwe's minimum age for work. 2009 - 2013
Pass or amend legislation to include the required Constitutional provisions on child labor into law. 2013
Enforcement Provide adequate resources for child labor inspections, combatting child trafficking, and implementing enforcement efforts. 2009 - 2013
Collect, analyze, and disseminate information on the enforcement of laws related to the worst forms of child labor. 2009 - 2013
Coordination Ensure the National Steering Committee to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the Inter-ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons are active and coordinate to address the worst forms of child labor and trafficking in persons. 2011 - 2013
Government Policies Assess the impact that existing policies, such as the UN Development Assistance Framework, may have on addressing child labor. 2013
Allocate appropriate resources to implement the NAP. 2010 - 2013
Utilize the results of the Child Labor Survey Report to inform policies and programs. 2011 - 2013
Social Programs Assess the overall impact that existing programs such as those under the NAP OVC II may have on the worst forms of child labor and address any gaps to ensure full national coverage. 2011 - 2013
Create programs that address the worst forms of child labor, particularly in mining and agriculture. 2010 - 2013
Conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working on the streets and in fishing to inform policies and programs. 2013



1. Government of Zimbabwe. 2011 Child Labour Survey Report. Harare; 2012. http://www.zimstat.co.zw/.

2. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Zimbabwe: Child Labour on the Rise." IRINnews.org [online] February 24, 2012 [cited April 11, 2014]; http://www.irinnews.org/report/94939/ZIMBABWE-Child-labour-on-the-rise.

3. U.S. Department of State. "Zimbabwe," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204183#wrapper.

4. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN . Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

5. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received February 13, 2014. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children's work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

6. U.S. Embassy- Harare. reporting, Janurary 10, 2014.

7. Musandirire, S. The Nature and Extent of Child Labour in Zimbabwe: A Case Study of Goromonzi District Farms in Zimbabwe [Masters of Arts mini diss.]: University of Fort Hare; March 2010.

8. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Zimbabwe's ailing economy fuelling child labour." IRINnews.org [online] January 9, 2014 [cited January 17, 2014]; http://www.irinnews.org/report/99443/zimbabwe-s-ailing-economy-fuelling-child-labour.

9. "Zimbabwe NGO Tackles Rising Child Labor in Farming Communities." voazimbabwe.com [online] April 19, 2012 [cited January 17, 2014]; http://www.voazimbabwe.com/content/local-project-rises-larger-question-of-rising-child-labor-in-zimbabwe--148149295/1469068.html.

10. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Zimbabwe: Mining Industry Attracts Child Labour as Economy Picks Up." IRINnews.org [online] October 14, 2010 [cited April 11, 2014]; http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=90770.

11. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in Zimbabwe: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of Zimbabwe. Geneva; October 19-21, 2011. http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Zimbabwe_TPR_report-16_oct_.pdf.

12. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Zimbabwe: Thousands of Girls Forced Out of Education." IRINnews.org [online] November 7, 2011 [cited April 11, 2014]; http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94157.

13. Eastern and Southern Africa Feature Story for Zimbabwe, UNICEF, [online] April 11, 2014 [cited May 23, 2012]; http://www.unicef.org/har2010/index_zimbabwe_feature.html.

14. Government of Zimbabwe. Labour Relations Amendment Act, Chapter 28:01 Part IV:11, enacted 2002.

15. ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database. Children's Protection and Adoption Amendment Act; accessed April 11, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home.

16. Government of Zimbabwe. Constitution of Zimbabwe, enacted May 22, 2013. www.parlzim.gov.zw/.../56/constitution.pdf‎.

17. Government of Zimbabwe. Sexual Offences Act, Law 8, enacted 2001.

18. International Humanitarian Law: National Implementation. National Service Act: Acts 19/1979, 22/2001; accessed April 11, 2014; http://www.cicr.org/ihl-nat.nsf/WebALL?openview.

19. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Zimbabwe (ratification: 2000) Published: 2014; accessed April 11, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3139004

20. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Zimbabwe (ratification: 2000) Published: 2011; accessed April 11, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=12726&chapter=6&query=%28zimbabwe%29+%40ref+%2B+%23YEAR%3D2011&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0.

21. U.S. Department of State. "Zimbabwe," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2013. Washington, DC; June 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/.

22. U.S. Embassy- Harare. reporting, February 21, 2014.

23. "Zimbabwe Fails to Pay Fees for 750,000 Desperate Children." voazimbabwe.com [online] January 14, 2014 [cited January 17, 2014]; http://www.voazimbabwe.com/content/zimbabwe-fees-basic-education-assistance-module-beam/1829782.html.

24. U.S. Embassy- Harare. reporting, February 12, 2013.

25. United Nations. Development Assistance Framework 2012-2015. Harare; 2011. http://www.zw.one.un.org/togetherwedeliver/zimbabwe-united-nations-development-assistance-framework-2012-2015.

26. Sandra Nyaira, Tatenda Gumbo, and Sithandekile Mhlanga. "Zimbabwe and Donors Launch Program to Relieve Vulnerable Children." voanews.com [online] May 23, 2011 [cited April 11, 2014]; http://www.voanews.com/zimbabwe/news/Zimbabwean-Government-and-International-Partners-Launch-Massive-Effort-to-Support-Orphaned-and-Vulnerable-Children-130732143.html.

27. UN News Centre. Zimbabwe's Orphans to Benefit from UN-Backed Cash Grant Programme. Press Release. New York; September 28, 2011. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39869&Cr=zimbabwe&Cr1=.

28. "DFID Pledges US$10m to BEAM." herald.co.zw [online] March 5, 2014 [cited March 21, 2014]; http://www.herald.co.zw/dfid-pledges-us10m-to-beam/.