Friday, August 30, 2013

Wholesale dismissal of NGO reports ill-advised

Wholesale dismissal of NGO reports ill-advised

Posted Thursday, August 29 2013 at 22:57
In Summary
  • Since tobacco farming is labour intensive, in some cases parents mobilise their own children to work in plantations as a means of boosting family income.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday indicates that thousands of children are being used in gold mines where conditions are deadly.
According to the report, our young ones work in small-scale gold mines located in at least Tanzania’s 11 sites that the watchdog visited. That youth who should be going to school are employed anywhere is bad enough; that they are working in conditions that endanger their health is criminal outrage!
However, the minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, is said to be casting doubt on the report, suspecting that it might have been tailored merely to facilitate donor funding for some NGOs. It is not the first time we are getting reports of child labour in Tanzania. That is why we think instead of a wholesale dismissal of the HRW report, the government should instead take time to study it and unearth the actual truth and then, if need be, shame the authors of the report.
It should, however, be noted that in November 2011, the ministry of Labour and Employment launched a four-year programme (Prosper), that aims to end child labour in tobacco growing areas and protect the young from exploitation in Urambo and Sikonge districts in Tabora Region.
Since tobacco farming is labour intensive, in some cases parents mobilise their own children to work in plantations as a means of boosting family income. Parent’s poverty and badly run schools that put off children are often given as factors that drive children to commercial farms and dangerous mining pits.

The plight of school-going youth who are not in school is visible for everyone to see in our towns, where armies of street children are growing alarmingly. No NGO reports are needed to appreciate this worrisome scenario. That is why we think the HRW report should be given a thought, for it gives an insight into what we all need to address.

Walkout by Rwandans halts Eala proceedings

Eala Speaker Margaret Zziwa
By Zephania Ubwani (email the author)

Posted Tuesday, August 27 2013 at 20:38
In Summary
  • They were protesting the decision by Speaker not to allow discussion on a motion on the rotation of sittings among partner states

Arusha. Business at the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) came to a halt yesterday afternoon after MPs from Rwanda led others in walking out of the august House.
The legislators were protesting the decision by the Speaker to bar them from discussing a motion on the rotation of sittings among partner states.
Outspoken Rwandan legislator Abdulkarim Harelimana led the walkout shortly before 3.30pm after Speaker Margaret Nnatongo Zziwa stopped Mr Peter Mathuki (Kenya) from tabling the motion which sources said has divided the EAC law makers as well as the partner states for sometime.
The debate on whether Eala sessions should continue to rotate among the five capitals of the partner states has been under scrutiny for sometime with the East African Community (EAC) preferring Arusha as the permanent venue now that it has its new headquarters with the purposely-built chambers for the regional Parliament.
When Mr Mathuki rose to table the motion after the House reconvened at 3pm, the Speaker turned him down, saying it was not an appropriate time to debate the issue.
Even after being pressed further that it was a point of procedure that the matter be debated in the House, Ms Zziwa refused to allow the motion to be tabled.
The pleas by Ugandan legislator Dan Kadega and others could not convince her to give a chance to the Order Paper to be discussed in the august House.

This eventually led to the walk-out of the MPs who were apparently dismayed by the way she was handling the matter. The walk-out was led by Rwanda MPs with Mr Harelimana being the first to march.
MPs from other countries followed shortly afterwards, forcing the House to be adjourned briefly in order to give a chance for the MPs and ex-officio members, including Eala administrators and ministers from the partner states, to consult on the matter.
When business resumed after 15 minutes, there were only 15 MPs among the assembly’s 45 . An official of the EAC secretariat said most of those who remained were MPs from Tanzania and Burundi plus one or two from Kenya.
The Eala Commission, until recently known as the Eala House Business Committee, has been meeting at the venue until the press time to discuss the development.
The House will resume at 2:20pm today and it is not known if the motion will be tabled. An Eala official added that there was a likelihood the issue could generate more debate as some partners are opposed to all its sessions in Arusha all the time.


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