Tongaat gets tough on child labour

Business Zimbabwe

Tawanda Mangoma

The country’s largest sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett 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 dropping out of school to seek employment in the cane fields.

In a statement, the sugar producer said all farmers should comply with the directive without exception.

“Child labour is a violation of fundamental human rights and it hinders children’s development, potentially leading to lifelong physical or psychological damage,” said the organisation.

“It is the exploration of children through a form of work that denies children of 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 exception, 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 and 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 and face cancellation of their milling quota.

In separate interviews, some farmers welcomed the move.”We must motivate our workers to send their children to school and this will 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.