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About 320 000 child labourers in Namibia

Mon, 26 October 2015 15:37
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue
News Flash

Deputy Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation (MLIRC) Alphaus Muheua has revealed that 60% (324 856) of the children population (534 406) have in one way or the other been involved in child labour.

The Deputy Minister reckons that the statistics released through the Namibia Child Activity Survey (NCAS) of 2010 (which are the latest statistics at hand) show that the children labourers are aged between 6 and 17.

Research on child labour also include subsistence work carried out by children or minors in farming fields, wholesale and retail shops, and private households while the most worrisome form of child labour involved child drivers, mine works and fishing industries.

“The Kunene region reported the highest percentage of working children that stood at 51.9% who are not attending school while Oshikoto reported the lowest percentage of 1.4% working children who are not attending school,” Muheua said.

In addition the Labour Force Survey conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency in 2014 revealed that 16 276 minors were illegally employed in the sectors of private households, agriculture and wholesale and retail trade.

The Villager Newspaper understands that these statistics consist of children aged 15 to 19, and this translates to 2.3% of the total number of the employed population which is at 712 752, according to the labour force of 2014.

Muheua however emphasised that, “Article 15 (3) of the Namibian Constitution, states that ‘No children under the age of fourteen (14) years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine, save under conditions and circumstances regulated by Act of Parliament. Nothing in this Sub- Article shall be construed as derogating in any way from Sub-Article (2) hereof.’ ”

Ironically the statistics released by the Deputy Minister indicate a decrease from the 408 638 working children recorded in 2005 out of a total of 568 635, which translated to 71.9%. Meanwhile, the 1999 statistics show 72 405 out of 444 751 which presented 16.3%.

Muheua echoed that the main industries which employed children in 2010 are the private households sector which recorded a total of 317 963 of the working children followed by agriculture with 2 493 and wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicle which each recorded 1 924.

In addition to the 324,856 working children recorded in 2010, 15.2% of that total were not attending school which translated to 49 474. Meanwhile, the sex distribution displayed that more males (15.9%) than females (14.6%) were not attending school.

The statistics provided to The Villager this week show that children in rural areas are more prone to child labour with the 2010 statistics indicating that the total number stood at 275 403 compared to those in urban areas that stood at 49 453.

In addition, female employed children also more prone to child labour with the total number of those employed was 167 973 according to the NCA 2010 statistics, whereas the male children employed stood at 156 883.

He added, “Additionally, Article 15 (4) makes it clear that, ‘Any arrangement or scheme employed on any farm or other undertaking, the object or effect of which is to compel the minor children of an employee to work for or in the interest of the employer of such employee, shall for the purposes of Article 9 hereof be deemed to constitute and arrangement or scheme to compel the performance of force labour.’ ”

He said the Labour Act clearly verbalizes that nobody may employ a child under the age of 14 years, adding that children who are at least 14 but younger than 16 years of age may be employed.

“However, such children must be ‘protected from economic exploitation and must not be employed for [a position that is] hazardous, interferes with their education or is harmful to their health or physical mental, spiritual, moral or social development',” he said.

Moreover, the Labour Act says that children who are at least 14 years old and younger than 16 years of age cannot be employed where work takes place between 20h00 (8pm) in the evening and 07h00 in morning, work that is done underground or in a mine, construction or demolition takes place and they may not work at a place where goods are manufactured, electricity is generated, transformed or distributed, machinery is installed or dismantled, or any workrelated activities take place that may place the child’s health, safety or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development risk.

“Any person found guilty of employing children in violation of these provisions of the Labour Act faces a maximum fine of N$20 000 or imprisonment of up to four (4) years or both,” Muheua said.