State employees should ‘work decently’


A MINISTER of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management and Good Governance), Mr George Mkuchika, has said that the state has uncovered about 40,000 employees whose declarations on age are questionable.

This is a deplorable situation, to say the least. Cheating, in any case, is an offence that is punishable in some venues. The minister says that the government will conduct fresh verifications on academic qualifications and age.

The initiative will involve all public servants. The Fifth Phase Government, under President John Magufuli, has already flushed out of the payroll a total of 19,706 ghost workers and almost 10,000 civil servants have been kicked out of the workforce because they lacked the required academic qualifications.

The upshot here is maintaining a crack team of government workers who will take national development farther ahead through hard work. In the same token, decent work is envisaged.

In fact, decent work is central to efforts aimed at reducing poverty in Tanzania. It is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

Indeed, the first dimension of Decent Work sets out the need for fundamental rights and international labour standards. This requirement does not give room to cheats.

The observance of these standards and compliance with local legislation is not an option but a necessity for government, employers and workers as they compete in the global market.

This being the case, Tanzanians should work much harder and with commitment. President John Magufuli wants everyone to work hard and has left no stone unturned to ensure that everyone performs honestly, indefatigably and diligently.

Tax evasion, for example, which was a small matter in the past is now a cardinal sin that is punishable by law. Mr Magufuli, a widely revered statesman who has won international acclaim, is keen on whipping the local workforce back to sanity.

It is a noble crusade that aims at making Tanzania a middle income economy over time. And this is to say the least. The upshot is to transform Tanzania into an industrial nation.

When campaigning for the presidency, Mr Magufuli told Tanzanians that he would lead the nation towards an industrial economy. So far, the president’s efforts are on the right track.

Statistics show that until the end of last year 114 industries had been registered through Tanzania Investment Centre, 64 had been listed through BRELA, 22 under the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and seven under National Development Corporation (NDC).

A further 1,830 had been logged under the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO). So, a total of 2,030 industries, mostly being small industries were registered last year--and the crusade continues.

But how dynamic is the Tanzanian workforce now? Even under the watchful eye of President Magufuli there are still too many cheats in the workforce. When the Magufuli administration discovered the presence of ghost workers in the workforce an elaborate cleanup was carried out, pronto.

This saved government money. Our labour law still need a bit of reworking. In the past, unfortunately, reinforcement of labour laws met constraints that included inadequate staffing, insufficient funding, shoddy skills and poor knowledge.

There was also the challenge of employers and workers refusing to accept new circumstances. Employers and workers often refused to change their attitudes and accept the new laws, but the current work situation is likely to force them to toe the line.

The Fifth Phase Government now wants everyone to work hard. Indeed, the situation in yesteryears was simply deplorable. In 2001, the then Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development made a historic reform on labour laws since Independence, overhauling the antiquated laws.

The move was tailored to promote and attract more foreign and local investments. The initiative also sought to create more employment opportunities in Tanzania and prevent disputes at places of work on the one hand and encourage efficient resolving of disputes on the other.

The reform process successfully enabled the enactment of the two pieces of legislation–The Employment and Labour Relations Act No. 6 of 2004 and the Labour Institutions Act No. 7 of 2004.

Unfortunately, the reforms do not appear to have much impact. The project was implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with then Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development, the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA).

The scheme envisaged strengthening compliance with the revised national labour legislature. Consequently, the awareness of employers’ and workers’ organizations on the constituents of their rights and obligations will be raised.

The project also involved judges and registrars of the Labour Court of Tanzania and the Industrial Court of Zanzibar and key staff of the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration on the Mainland and Dispute Handling Unit in Zanzibar.

Some 850 registered members of ATE and 320,000 members of TUCTA were reached indirectly. The key objective was to increase knowledge among employers and workers in connection with their rights, obligations and services under national labour laws.

Despite political stability and a relatively robust economic growth, Tanzania remains one of the poorest countries in the world with high income inequalities between urban and rural areas.

Preliminary findings of the Household Budget Survey in 2007 showed that the proportion of the population below the national basic needs poverty line had decreased slightly to 33.3 per cent.

Given the high population growth of about 2.6 per cent per year, there are more people living in poverty now than in 2001. Tanzania has a human development index (HDI) rating of 164 out of 177 countries and a gender development index (GDI) rating of 127 out of 140.

These statistics notwithstanding, Tanzania has recorded some progress in achieving the goals of its National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (Mkukuta). National education indicators largely reveal success.

However, equitable access to quality primary and secondary school education for boys and girls remains a serious concern. In health, a sharp reduction in infant mortality has been logged.

The infant mortality rate reduction is also on a trajectory to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, life expectancy dropped to about 44 years. It is also estimated that if transmission levels of HIV/ AIDS remain stable the labour force will be reduced by 12 per cent by the year 2020 compared to a situation without HIV/AIDS.

The informal economy is expanding in urban areas where workers are not covered by legislation protecting their rights. They are also not covered by social security schemes.

Most of the persons in the informal economy are self-employed without employees. Nearly 50 per cent of young Tanzanians in both the Mainland and Zanzibar end up in informal, low paid and low skilled menial jobs with no social protection.

With a prevailing population growth, more than 700,000 job seekers enter the labour market each year, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Most of the new workers are absorbed into the agriculture sector.

ILO estimates that approximately 57 per cent of the unemployed young Tanzanians on the Mainland are young women. These face greater obstacles in joining the labour force as compared to the hardships their male counterparts confront.

Factors that contribute to this situation include lower education and a lack of skills, cultural attitudes and practices that frustrate women, discrimination and limited opportunities to access productive resources, including natural resources and capital.

The analytical Integrated Labour Force Survey (ILFS) report of 2006 shows that the majority of the currently employed persons are in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing industries which account for 76.5 per cent of the employed population.

About 79.7 per cent of employed women and 70.6 per cent of employed males are in these industries, according to the ILO survey. The current unemployment rate stands at 12.9 per cent.

Wholesale and retail businesses employ a much higher proportion of males (10.4 percent). The females working in this category account for only 8.9 per cent. Private homes engage 3.8 of the currently employed population with the number of working women standing at 6.1 per cent.

This number is four times that of men, the ILO says. The manufacturing sector has 2.6 per cent of total workforce. However, the proportion of working males (3.4 per cent) is twice that of females (1.9 per cent).

In the last six years economic performance in Tanzania has been one of the very best in Sub-Saharan Africa. From 1998 to 2007 the economy grew at an average rate of 6.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GPD).

This was largely due to high inflows of foreign direct investment coupled with an increase in government expenditure.

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