Maputo no golden lining for Mozambique’s child labourers

child labour mozfrom BERTA MADIME in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – SUNRISE has barely set in, around 6 o’clock, in Lichinga, the capital of Mozambique’s northern Niassa Province and teenager Jossias is already in the market.
He is not on his way school, as you would expect someone his age to be.
Oblivious of international laws dissuading child labor, he considers his “work” easy despite daily searing under the weight of loads as heavy as 250 kilogrammes a day.“I am 15 years old,” he discloses.
“It doesn’t seem fine to me to be asking my parents for money,” he boasts.“I help people to carry loads, mostly rice. I also unload trucks. My friends also do that.”
The weight of the loads Jossias carries daily can vary from 25 kg to the most he can carry. He can carry some ten loads on a “good” day.
In the Southern African country, people who perform such tasks are called madjovidjos or gai-gais.
For those hiring Jossias services, they see an advantage over his colleagues because he is young. Other gai-gais are usually old, weak and wrecked by alcohol.After his work day he gets some money and goes home to watch television.
Since all the big Mozambican media houses are headquartered in the capital Maputo city, the image the boy and most of his friends have of the city one of high-rise buildings, good cars, the best universities and luxurious shopping centres.
Maputo is thus regarded as an El Dorado (The golden one). Whoever goes there is expected to return home rich or at least financially stable.
As statistics from the first National Survey on the Informal Sector carried out by the National Institute of Statistics (INE, locally) would have it, if Jossias went to Maputo city, his fate as a non- educated under aged Mozambican would not change much.
With some 1,3 million people living in the city and most of them coming from other provinces seeking better conditions, statistic indicate most of
them end up as informal workers with dreams of wealth only a pipedream.
The numbers show that for people like Jossias, moving to Maputo means joining a crowd of street sellers or gai-gais in one of the capital’s big markets: Xipamanine, Junta, Malanga or most probably downturn in Baixa where Mozambicans throng to buy imported products.
The Chinese, Indians, Nigerians, South Africans and other nationalities have their biggest share of informal market in the country.
If Jossias decided to head to Maputo as anticipated, he would probably meet Carlos, also aged 15.
Carlos works for more than ten hours a day to make ends meet.He wakes up by 4am because Maputo downtown is 10 km walk away from his home.Carlos must reach his so-called workplace before shops are open and other colleagues arrive.
He sells cookies, just one of thousands of children who sell that kind of snacks in the markets.
Carlos has to contend with older, stronger and mostly violent young men.Like Jossias, Carlos dropped out of school at the seventh grade after government stopped providing him free education.
Without money to afford secondary school and orphaned, he opted to look for a job to feed himself and his grandparents.
At the end of the day, his earnings range between US$2 and $5.From those, he is only authorized to use 20 cents to feed himself during the day.
That is to make sure that at the end of his day some profit is left for the employer.
His work ends by around 9pm.
Then he walks back to the employer’s house, reaches the place an hour-and-a-half later, delivers the money and is released to go home.
That routine takes place Monday to Saturday.At the end of the month, he receives between $8 and $10, which is managed by his grandparents.
Negotiations by the grandparents for a salary increase for the teen have been unsuccessful.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) some four million Mozambicans are labourers. This is out of a the country’s total population of children put at 14 million, almost half of Mozambique’s total population.
In the rural areas, children work in farms and mines. Their salaries are even lower than those of the children working in the urban markets.
United Nations Children’s Fund, ILO and the ministry for labor and social welfare are expected to soon release a more specific study pointing the main forms of child labor in the country.
It is anticipated this would help establish means to prosecute employers of these minors.
More worryingly, preliminary data provided by the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, the country’s major university, indicates prostitution and mining are the worst forms of child labour.
ILO country representative, Igor Felice, believes agriculture, informal trade and domestic work are the most worrying trades.
“These are invisible sectors since children are usually inside residences. Felice nonetheless said the problem was not around legislation but its implementation.
Laws preclude child labor but it is complicated,” he said.
“Sectors such as agriculture are difficult for labor inspectors to be able to detect working children and to implement measures to prevent child labour,” Felice said.
Minister of labor and social security, Vitoria Diogo, denounced the trend as intolerable.
“This exploitation of minors in our country is not acceptable. We want to fight it,” Diogo assured.
– CAJ News

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Posted by on Aug 4 2017. Filed under Africa & World, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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