Tanzanian workers are lazy and unproductive says Tanzania’s National Productivity Council (NPC) quoted in ‘Business News’ on September 29th 1989. The NPC Executive Secretary, Mr Nikubuka Shimwela attributes the trend to a lack of a productive culture in the nation. “People are not serious with work” he said.

According to the Council the nation’s productivity has been falling since 1980 with adverse effects on the national economy. In financial institutions productivity has been declining at an average rate of 3.3% In the manufacturing sector at 6.2%, in the mining sector at 4% and in public administration at 5.5% In cross section interviews on productivity many interviewees have charged that the most unproductive sector is the public administration sector. Civil servants report late for work, one person charged. Some leave their work well before closing time while most spend a considerable amount of time in dubious private ventures during working hours.

Responding in the Mailbag column of ‘Business News’ a Mr Ben Kaswaga wondered what had happened to workers in recent years. Had the generation of early post-independence workers disappeared? The answer was no he wrote. Many of those Tanzanians were still alive and well. But something or other had happened in their minds.

‘How much productivity can be expected of a Tanzanian who gets up at 5.30 in the morning without even a crumb of boiled cassava for breakfast to make two bus connections at 30 shillings each so as to be in time for work? Can this hungry worker produce much when all he has for lunch is a couple of roasted sweet potatoes to be washed down the throat with, perhaps, one soda because he can’t afford anything better? Can this worker be productive when, at 2.30 pm – tired, underfed and undernourished – he has to make another two bus connections to get back home and arrive there, maybe two hours later ….

The Tanzanian is lazy? True, probably, but that is mainly because he does not eat enough. He does not eat enough because he is not paid enough (or sometimes not at all) because there is low productivity. But there cannot be higher productivity from a demoralised, tired and hungry producer …..

Need we wonder why even that old glorious self-help spirit is now only a thing of the past?’

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