THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPLOYMENT ACT 1983

The Human Resources Deployment Act, 1983, was passed by the National Assembly in April and became law on 9th. May. It gives the Government wide new powers to mobilise the country’s labour force for productive work. It follows a direction of the National Conference of the Party (Chama cha Mapinduzi) held in October, 1982, that the Government ensure that everybody who is able to work does so more skilfully and productively. The Act is ‘aimed at making provisions to regulate and facilitate the deployment of available human resources towards the eradication of poverty’.

The preamble to the Act refers to the Constitution of the Republic, the Arusha Declaration and resolutions of the former Tanganyika African National Union and of CCM concerning the right and duty of citizens to engage in productive and lawful work. The Minister for Labour, after consulting other Departments and public and private bodies, is required to produce a National Human Resources Deployment Scheme involving public and private sectors and agriculture to ensure that all residents capable of working do so more skilfully and productively. The Act also sets up a National Human Resources Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister for Labour to advise on the implementation of policy, on research into better ways of using available manpower resources and on any necessary legislation.

The Act makes the new local authorities responsible for making arrangements which will ensure that every resident within its area ‘engages in productive or other lawful employment’. All local authorities are required to establish a local human resources deployment committee to carry out the provisions of the Act and will have the assistance of a local co-ordinator appointed by the Commissioner for Labour. In addition to formulating plans for employment- generating projects, local authorities will maintain two registers. There will be an Employers’ Register, which will give information on employment capable of being offered by employers. There will also be a register of all ‘residents’, that is, people who ordinarily reside in the area of the authority excluding those under the age of 15 and those incapable of work on account of old age, illness, or infirmity, with details among other things of their qualifications and present employment. The Commissioner for Labour in conjunction with employers in the public and private sectors will establish a national register of non-skilled, skilled and high-level manpower. The Minister may make regulations as to the manner in which the inclusion of a person’s name on the register may be proved, for example, by the issue of identification cards.

The Minister may arrange for the transfer and subsequent employment of unemployed people, having special regard for retired public servants, unemployed young persons, unemployed adults, housewives and non-citizens. Where training or rehabilitation is needed, the Minister in cooperation with other Departments may make provision for suitable courses. The Minister is especially required to provide for the rehabilitation and gainful employment of persons convicted as ‘idle and disorderly persons’ (prostitutes, beggars, gamblers, vagrants, etc.), or as ‘rogues and vagabonds’ (petty thieves, idle and disorderly persons on second conviction). The officers of the Commissioner are empowered to enter premises ‘reasonably suspected of harbouring idle persons’. It will be an offence to obstruct any scheme organised under this Act.

The Act appears to reflect the conviction long held and expressed in the Arusha Declaration and subsequent statements that the nation’s human resources are one its principal assets. The more effective use of manpower has become even more critical in recent years owing to the decline in the nation’s economy and restrictions in the flow of external resources. If in the present unfavourable international climate the nation cannot develop the economy as previously planned, at least it must make the best possible productive use of the two factors of production that are available in abundance – its human capital and its land. It is a recognition of this fact that is believed to have led to this legislation.

There are of course symptoms of maladjustment in the use made of human resources, which are mainly a consequence of the economic crisis. There are persons who have been devoting their energies to black market activities and other occupations that are parasitic on the economy in an effort to bypass shortages and to manipulate the situation for personal enrichment. There is also the pervasive and unsolved problem of the urban unemployed, rural folk who drift into the towns in the, belief that the streets are paved with gold. There are finally those retired civil servants – one hopes few in number – who use their knowledge of the ropes and a little greasing of palms to secure special favours. Some of these aberrations are punishable at law under the Economic Sabotage (Special Provisions) Act, but the Human Resources Deployment Act is a much more positive approach to such problems. It is interesting that special attention is given by the Act to employment schemes as a therapy for petty crime.

Whether the new local authorities will measure up to this formidable challenge remains to be seen. Even labour-intensive employment requires an investment both of capital and of initiative and expertise; only the future can show whether these essential ingredients are available in sufficient measure, though the comparative success of the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) even under difficult economic conditions is a hopeful sign. One interesting aspect will be the use made of the services of the growing body of civil servants retiring at 55, or resigning at 50, as the law provides. The hope is that many will return to their villages and provide a focal point for new initiatives in rural society.

The first test will be in the Dar es Salaam Region, where the Prime Minister has directed that the Region identify farming land for the unemployed of the city. This is potentially a substantial task. It is calculated that of the city’s estimated population (1983) of 1.3 million only 166,000 (12%) are formally employed. On the assumption that on an average they have four dependents, this accounts for 830,000 people, leaving an estimated 470,000 engaged in the informal sector or unemployed. Clearly nothing like this number will need to be resettled. Studies both of Tanzanian and of other African urban areas (1) have demonstrated that the informal employment sector is complex and dynamic, making an important contribution to the economy. The Tanzanian Government would not want in practice to remove this source of initiative and enterprise. However, there is understandable worry at the demands that Dar es Salaam makes on the national food supply and both employed and unemployed residents are being urged to make efforts to grow at least part of their food requirements. The Government will offer farm implements and seed for sale, or on easy credit terms, and provide food for a short period for people who are prepared to settle in and farm the new land.

John Arnold

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