Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Zimbabwe

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Zimbabwe, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa49a3c.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor3745
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:Not Compulsory
Free public education:No
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:96
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:82
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2002:70
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

During the reporting period, Zimbabwe continued to suffer from an economic crisis – with high inflation and unemployment rates and severe shortages of food and other basic necessities. The crisis appears to have affected the rate of children's work. Since 2000, approximately 25 percent of Zimbabweans have migrated to other countries as a result of the deteriorating economic and social conditions, including some children.3746 The number of children working in the informal sector continues to increase as more children struggle to fill the income gap left by relatives who are unemployed, ill, or deceased.3747

In Zimbabwe, most working children are engaged in agriculture, hunting, and fishing.3748 Children work in agriculture on tea and sugar estates, as well as in domestic service; the restaurant and hotel industries; mining, including illegal gold mining; quarrying; manufacturing; construction; and other types of work, such as street vending and guarding cars.3749 Children orphaned by AIDS often performed domestic work for their extended relatives without pay, and children who engaged in domestic work for third-party households were sometimes not paid by their employers.3750

Girls are increasingly being exploited in prostitution, including in rural Matabeleland South Province. Girls as young as 13 years are resorting to prostitution due to poverty, high food prices, increasing rates of inflation in the country, and to pay for school fees. The number of girls on the streets in urban areas is growing as a result of poverty and HIV/AIDS.3751 The belief that sex with virgins can cure sexually transmitted infections contributes to the sexual exploitation of children and the spread of disease.3752 Some reports indicate that Zimbabwean girls are being sexually exploited in exchange for passage across the border to South Africa.3753

Children are known to cross the border into Mozambique in search of work. Zimbabwean children engage in market vending, selling firewood, and harvesting crops in Mozambique.3754 Children are also known to migrate to South Africa – in some cases migrating alone at very young ages – where they engage in street vending and other forms of work, like washing cars and unloading goods. One study indicated that Zimbabwean children migrate alone due to the combined effects of poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and lack of educational opportunities in the country.3755

Within Zimbabwe, children are trafficked from rural areas to farms and urban areas for agricultural work, domestic service, and commercial sexual exploitation. A limited number of South African girls are trafficked into the country for forced labor in domestic service.3756 There are reports that children left in Zimbabwe by emigrating parents have been exploited by traffickers offering to transport the children to their parents' countries of resettlement.3757

The Government continues to run National Youth Service training camps, and reports from youth who deserted the camps indicate that they were subjected to military training, as well as racist and partisan political indoctrination. Additionally, graduates of the program were used to commit acts of political violence on behalf of the Government.3758

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment in Zimbabwe is 15 years.3759 Children between 13 and 15 years may be employed if they are apprentices or if their work is an integral part of a vocational training program. At 15 years, children may engage in light work beyond training programs, and young persons under 18 years are prohibited from performing work that might jeopardize their health, safety, or morals.3760 The law also prohibits the involvement of children under 18 years in hazardous labor, defined as any work likely to interfere with their education; expose them to hazardous substances; involve underground mining; expose them to electronically-powered hand tools, cutting, or grinding blades; subject them to extreme conditions; or occur during a night shift.3761 Child labor offenses are punishable by a fine, imprisonment of 2 years, or both.3762

The law prohibits compulsory or forced labor, but provides exceptions in cases where such labor is required from a member of a disciplined force, the National Youth Service, or parents. The law provides penalties of 2 years of imprisonment, a fine, or both, for forced labor violations.3763 While no law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, the law prohibits the transportation of individuals across the border for sexual purposes and procuring individuals for prostitution either inside Zimbabwe or internationally. The law provides penalties of a fine and up to 2 years of imprisonment for those convicted of procuring individuals for prostitution, and it provides for a penalty of up to 10 years of imprisonment in cases involving the procurement of children under 16 years.3764 The minimum age for both military conscription and for voluntary recruitment into the Armed Forces is 18 years. The minimum age for joining the National Youth Service training is 16 years.3765 According to USDOS, the ability of the Ministry of Labor's Department of Social Welfare to conduct inspections or enforce child labor laws was hindered by a lack of resources.3766

According to USDOS, while anti-trafficking efforts of Zimbabwe's law enforcement have increased significantly, the level of resources dedicated to investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases is not sufficient.3767 At the Interpol National Central Bureau office, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) set up an anti-trafficking desk to investigate cases of international trafficking involving movement across borders. The ZRP has investigated two new cases of trafficking in 2007, including one involving children trafficked to Mozambique for forced, unpaid labor in a flea market.3768

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Zimbabwe incorporated children's issues into its UN Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2007-2011. ZUNDAF specifically includes the number of districts holding monthly meetings to discuss child labor issues as an indicator for measuring improved capacity of the education system to retain students at all levels.3769

In October 2007, the Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO, UNICEF, IOM, and UNESCO for a program of collaboration to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the country. During the first phase of the program, the ILO is working with the Government to define the worst forms of labor in Zimbabwe and conduct a national survey on the extent of child labor. An action plan based on the results of the national survey will be developed in the second phase.3770

The Government also worked closely with the IOM to combat trafficking. In collaboration with Save the Children-Norway, the Government provided assistance to children at an IOM Child Care Center in Beitbridge along the South African border. This center assisted over 2,400 unaccompanied children between 2006 and 2007.3771 The Government also supported the IOM with land to build a second reception center in Plumtree to assist Zimbabweans deported from Botswana, including child trafficking victims. The Zimbabwean Government likewise worked with the IOM to provide training to police in Chimanimani, a source area for trafficking to South Africa and Mozambique;3772 and both also collaborate on conducting research into the trafficking of children from and within Zimbabwe.3773 The Government has also conducted media campaigns to raise awareness of trafficking issues, and representatives from several government agencies participated in anti-trafficking training held by the IOM in 2007.3774


3745 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see U.S. Department of State, "Zimbabwe," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5, 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007.

3746 International Monetary Fund, IMF Executive Board Considers Zimbabwe's Arrears to the Fund, Press Release, Washington, DC, February 23, 2007; available from http://www.imf.org/external/country/ZWE/index.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Zimbabwe: Child Migrants Seek a Better Life in South Africa", IRINnews.org, [online], September 3, 2007 [cited December 8, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=74083.

3747 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3748 Zimbabwe Central Statistics Office, Child Labour Report, 2004, Harare, March 2006, 38 and 44.

3749 Ibid, U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe."

3750 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3751 Ibid. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Zimbabwe: Sex Work Thrives as Girls Struggle to Survive", IRINnews.org, [online], April 18, 2007 [cited December 8, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=71678. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Zimbabwe, accessed December 11, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

3752 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Zimbabwe: Child Abused Every Hour, New Data Reveals", IRINnews.org, [previously online], November 20, 2006; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=56443 [hard copy on file]. See also UNICEF, "UNICEF "Shocked and Outraged" at Latest Case of Child Rape in Zimbabwe", UNICEF.org, [previously online], August 1, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/media_35154.html?q=printme [hard copy on file].

3753 U.S. Embassy – Harare, reporting, March 7, 2007, Overview para B. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Child Migrants".

3754 Save the Children UK, Visitors from Zimbabwe: A Preliminary Study Outlining the Risks and Vulnerabilities Facing Zimbabwean Children who have Crossed Illegally into Mozambique, May 24, 2006, 6; available from http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2006/sc-zim-24may.pdf

3755 Save the Children UK, Children Crossing Borders: Report on Unaccompanied Minors who have Travelled to South Africa, July 2007, 5-6; available from http://www.savethechildren.org/uk/en/54_3163.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Child Migrants".

3756 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5.

3757 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Zimbabwe: Children Left at Home Pay the Price of Migration", IRINnews.org, [online], June 11, 2007 [cited December 8, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=72669.

3758 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Zimbabwe: 'Green Bombers' Deserting Poor Conditions in Camps", IRINnews.org, [previously online], January 24, 2004; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=39106 [hard copy on file].

3759 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Zimbabwe (ratification: 2000), [previously online], Geneva, 2003; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/ [hard copy on file]. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3760 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3761 ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database, Children's Protection and Adoption Amendment Act, 2001 (No. 23), accessed December 11, 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home.

3762 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3763 Government of Zimbabwe, Constitution of Zimbabwe, chapter 3, article 14; available from http://www.nca.org.zw/Downloads/zim_constitution.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6c.

3764 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5.

3765 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Zimbabwe," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/library/global-reports?root_id=159&category_id=165.

3766 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 6d.

3767 U.S. Department of State, "Zimbabwe (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5.

3768 U.S. Embassy – Harare, reporting, December 5, 2007, para B.

3769 Government of Zimbabwe and UNDP, Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2007-2011, Harare, 2006, 61; available from http://www.undg.org/archive_docs/1507Zimbabwe_UNDAF_2007-2011_-_ZUNDAF_2007-2011.pdf.

3770 U.S. Embassy – Harare, reporting, December 5, 2007, para A See also the Herald (Harare), "Govt Committed to Ending Child Labour", allAfrica.com, [online], October 2, 2007 [cited October 8, 2007]; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200710020256.html

3771 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Child Migrants". See also U.S. Embassy – Harare, reporting, December 5, 2007, para E. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5.

3772 U.S. Embassy – Harare, reporting, December 5, 2007, para B.

3773 IOM, "Activities: Zimbabwe", [online], [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/pid/351.

3774 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Zimbabwe," section 5.

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