Government probes child labour claims in Kahama tobacco farms 

What you need to know:

  • Involvement of minors in the industry is prohibited under Section 69 of the Tobacco Industry Act of 2001 and its 2011 amendment

Kahama. The Kahama District administration, in collaboration with the Tanzania Tobacco Board (TTB), has launched an investigation into reports of child labour and illegal employment of foreigners on tobacco farms in Shinyanga Region’s Ushetu District, following a story published in The Citizen.

The investigations comes two weeks since The Citizen revealed a two-month investigation report that exposed child exploitation in the remote tobacco farming hub of Ushetu District Council, Shinyanga region.

The investigation exposed a troubling trend where vulnerable individuals, predominantly from Burundi, Rwanda, and the DR Congo, find themselves ensnared in exploitative labour conditions.

Kahama District Commissioner Mboni Mhita told reporters on February 8, 2024, that an investigation was underway and that appropriate actions would be taken depending on the investigation’s outcomes.

"While tobacco farming adheres to international laws regarding environmental conservation and children's rights protection, which strictly prohibit child labour in such environments, we are actively scrutinising the allegations of minors being involved in tobacco cultivation in the Msalala tobacco farms," said Ms Mhita.

The district commissioner said that the government is also investigating claims regarding the employment of foreign nationals from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, stressing the need for adherence to legal procedures and regulations in obtaining labour from abroad.

TTB Director General Stanley Mnozya echoed these sentiments, stressing the importance of compliance with guidelines set forth for tobacco cultivation and trade.

He reiterated that the involvement of minors in the tobacco industry is strictly prohibited under Section 69 of the Tobacco Industry Act of 2001 and its 2011 amendment, applicable across all regions where tobacco is grown.

In response to concerns about foreign labourers, Kahama District Immigration Officer Salum Rashid underscored the necessity for proper documentation and adherence to legal procedures for employing foreign workers.

He said his office conducts regular inspections to ensure compliance and advised all stakeholders to obtain the required permits and work documents for foreign labourers.

According to the immigration officer, foreign labourers need to obtain work permits that last three to six months in addition to the required documentation proving their citizenship in their home countries.