Dar es Salaam. Stakeholders have warned that the disruption in government delivery as a result of massive sacking of civil servants could cause irreparable damage unless President John Magufuli acts quickly and decisively.
On Friday, President Magufuli sacked 9,932 government employees who were found to have forged academic certificates. The audit of thousands others is ongoing but stakeholders who spoke to The Citizen yesterday over matter said the unprecedented sacking has worsened the acute shortage of employees in the country.
Before the sacking the government had a shortage of about 50,000 workers in sectors such as health, education and justice, according to some estimates and stakeholders said one of the quick options is for the government to rethink its decision, re-instate the sacked workers and put systems that will ensure that hitherto nobody with forged certificate is employed. Concerns over disruption of services were founded on the facts that some districts such as Ilala has had more than 300 employees sacked, which is enough to bring the district to a stand still.
The government has not said how fast the employment of new civil servants will take place, but Prof Gaudens Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University (Rucu) the recruitment of new employees would not offset the loss in experience and expertise of the sacked ones.
“We should expect quite a disruption on social service delivery due to lost expertise and experience,” Prof Mpangala noted.
He said the government is to blame for failing to put systems that could check the problem. The aspect of selective justice is also worrying because politicians have been left out of the audit despite the fact that some of them are accused of owning forged academic certificates.
Prof Mpangala said despite the fact that the purge is the right thing to do it is the approach that is bad.
“It is said to say but the government has approached the issue of fake certificates in the civil service the same way as the anti-corruption crusade. Selective justice is at play. And the people are right to ask why should some of people in the same government be forgiven while others are taken accountable,” Prof Mpangala said.
Prof Mpangala said there is no logic in regional commissioners (RCs), district commissioners (DCs) and members of the Parliament be excluded in the crackdown, taking into consideration the fact that a former Temeke MP, Mr Ramadhan Kihiyo, lost his seat because of fake academic qualifications.
Writing on his Twitter handle, renowned law professor Issa Shivji said Tanzania’s major problem was a a poor education system.
“Those with fake certificates have been sacked. What about those with genuine certificates but fake education? What about the system that delivers education that is below par?” Prof Shivji queried.
Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba of the Legal and Human Right Centre said to avoid the disruption of social services and to ensure justice is done to all those concerned President Magufuli was supposed to pardon all who were found with forged certificates as he did to RCs, DCs, cabinet ministers and legislators and ensure that crackdown on fake certificates is done to the newly recruits.
“The war on fake certificates should be forward looking. A system should be put in place to ensure no one would be employed if they use forged certificates,” Dr Kijo-Bisimba said.
Dr Hamad Salim, a political scientist from the Open University of Tanzania, said the audit of government employees was not a new thing but past administration avoided mass expulsions because of its complexity and the impact it could have on social services delivery.
The issue of employees using forged certificates raises difficult questions according to Dr Salim; Is it appropriate for employees using fake certificates to remain in office? How competent were they when they were serving as government employees?
Dr Salim added that the mass sacking of the civil servants will have a big impact on the capacity of the government to deliver services especially because there was already an acute shortage.
Dr Salim notes that the government had a shortage of 52,000 workers and had stopped new employments in the last two years. In between some employees have retired and others have died making the shortage even more acute.
“We must expect service disruption, the remaining employees will be overworked and there is a risk of reduced morale if they will not be adequately compensated,” Dr Salim said.
Dr George Shumbusho appealed to President Magufuli to rethink his decision within 24 hours to avoid an adverse impact not only on government’s capacity to deliver but also to the society.
“These thousands of employees and their dependents will pass through a very difficult time. We need more counselling services to them cope with the stress and the difficult financial situation they will find themselves in especially as reports say they will not receive pension,” Dr Shumbusho noted.
Mr Yahya Msigwa, secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta), said employees sacked over forged certificates would not get their pensions.