HARARE – As the economy continues to bite the dust, more and more children in and around Harare are being forced to beg from motorists at road intersections.
Some of the children will be carrying family siblings on their back as they dangerously move, bowel in hand, between moving vehicles.
At the traffic lights by Simon Mazorodze and Remembrance Drive, small boys take turns to beg for loose change from kombi drivers.
Tapiwa (not real name) has been a regular at the traffic intersection for the past two years after he left his rural home in Mutoko.
He said he came to Harare on a truck that was travelling to Mbare Musika to sell tomatoes and has never returned since.
“Sometimes the money we collect is taken away from us by the older boys who we stay with along Mukuvisi River in Mbare. But most of the times we buy cheap glue or musombodhiya. Some have bosses who demand that they bring a certain amount of money every day, either through begging or smashing into cars,” he said.
According to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2017, Zimbabwe has been identified as a source, transit and destination for men, women and children trafficked for sex and forced labour.
The United States placed Zimbabwe in the second tier watch list, as government had yet to fully comply with statutes against human trafficking.
“As reported over the past five years, Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Family members recruit children and other relatives from rural areas for work in cities where they are often subjected to domestic servitude or other forms of forced labour; some children, particularly orphans, are lured with promises of education or adoption.
“Reports indicate that adults have recruited girls for child sex trafficking in Victoria Falls. Children are subjected to forced labour in the agricultural and mining sectors and are forced to carry out illegal activities, including drug smuggling.
There were increased reports of children from Mozambique being subjected to forced labour in street vending in Zimbabwe, including in Mbare.
Additionally, the practice of ngozi, giving a family member to another family to avenge the spirits of a murdered relative, creates vulnerability to trafficking,” read part of the report.
It also indicated that men, women, and children, predominantly from East Africa, are transported through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa; some of these migrants are trafficking victims.
TIP 2017 also noted that refugees from Somalia and Democratic Republic of the Congo reportedly travel from Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge to Harare, where they are exploited and forced into prostitution.
“Chinese nationals are reportedly forced to labour in restaurants in Zimbabwe. Chinese construction and mining companies in Zimbabwe reportedly employ practices indicative of forced labour, including verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, and various means of coercion to induce work in unsafe or otherwise undesirable conditions,” read part of the report.
National director of the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children Taylor Nyanhete told the Daily News on Sunday that during a child’s developmental milestones they are faced with a number of challenges which require specific attention.
He said because there are many orphans and child-headed families, these children require not only food but also shelter, clothing, healthcare, education, access to registration.
Nyanhete added that as resources are the key driver to having many challenges addressed, a budget should be allocated that deals with problems faced by vulnerable children.
“We are having an increase of child beggars on the street, these children remain exposed to various forms of abuse whilst on the streets. The reason why they are on the streets is because there is no source of income to sustain their families and on the other side government has no budget to meet the needs of these children,” Nyanhete said.
“Most vulnerable children are taken advantage of mainly because they are looking forward to receive a certain reward to sustain their lives. We should as well strengthen our child protection systems to be able to respond to abuse of children timeously and effectively.”