THE Zimbabwean government is fretting over brain drain, saying the mass exodus of professionals has reduced the country to a training ground.

Most professionals have left the country in search of greener pastures.

This comes as civil servants are pressing for improved salaries and working conditions and this week gave the government a two-week ultimatum to address their concerns or they would embark on industrial action.

Addressing delegates at the Unicef dialogue on child protection financing in Zimbabwe yesterday, Public Service minister Paul Mavima said there was a need for the government to come up with measures to retain the country’s skilled workforce.

He said of late social workers have been leaving the country in droves.

“We are competing with countries that offer lucrative remuneration for social workers, countries that have more resources.

“We are almost becoming training hubs for social workers, similar to what happens to other professions, including the health sector.

“We need to come up with very specific (remuneration packages) that we will present to the Public Service Commission as well as treasury for us to halt this brain drain.

“The larger intervention that is needed  relates to the growth of our economy, which is a collective responsibility  for Zimbabweans, government, social partners, labour movements as well as industry, it is a national responsibility,” Mavima said.

The dialogue on child protection financing in Zimbabwe is part of the Child Budgeting Series initiated by Unicef and Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES) in partnership with the government.

The event allowed the exchange of knowledge and generated recommendations to shape and improve national and subnational policy interventions and investments in the child protection sector, including through the national budget process as well as development partner support. 

 “This High-Level Policy Dialogue on Child Protection Financing is of critical importance as children in Zimbabwe face many protection issues, including child marriage, violence against children and child labour,” Mavima said.

 According to the 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the government with support from Unicef and partners, one woman out of three in Zimbabwe aged 20 to 49 was married before the age of 18, and five percent of girls were married before the age of 15.

Nearly one child out of three between 5 and 17 years in the country is engaged in child labour, involving particularly young boys living in rural areas, as well as children living with disabilities.

Zimbabwe also faces widespread violence against children, with two-thirds of girls and three-quarters of boys experiencing physical violence by a parent or an adult relative.

 “Zimbabwe has a significantly developed child protection legal and institutional framework, including through the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No. 20) Act and the Children’s Act.

“The latter includes provisions for the protection, welfare, and supervision of children, and establishes a Child Welfare Fund.

“The country has also acceded to or domesticated several international and regional commitments ensuring the protection rights of children, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” highlighted Nigel Chanakira, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society.

 The country’s National Case Management System strives to ensure children who experience violence, abuse and exploitation get access to comprehensive and quality protection and welfare services.

It serves as a collaborative framework between the state social workers at national, provincial and district levels, community childcare workers and non-government child protection actors who provide specialized child services.

 “Unicef recognises the good work being done by the Government on the issue of child protection. The notable achievements include a developed child protection legal, policy and institutional framework, as well as the strengthening of the provision of child protection services through the roll out of the National Case Management System in all districts,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, Unicef representative in Zimbabwe.

 The government is funding many child protection interventions, including through the introduction of additional child-focused social protection programmes such as tuition grants, provision of sanitary wear in schools, school feeding programme and the establishment of the learner welfare programme under the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. – Daily News