by Ben Taylor

President John Magufuli announced the firing of nearly 10,000 civil servants after receiving a report on public servants’ academic certificates. The following day, the full list of those accused of possessing fake certificates was published.

The Minister of State for Public Service Management, Angela Kairuki, noted that from a total of 435,000 civil servants who had their certificates verified, 9,932 were found to possess forged certificates.

The evaluation was commissioned by the President’s Office Public Service Management and Good Governance, and conducted by a 15-member team. It was a follow-up exercise after an earlier nationwide crackdown on “ghost workers” that struck 19,706 non-existent employees off the public payroll.

The exercise considered Form IV and VI academic certificates as well as teachers with certificates and diploma qualifications. It did not look at elected representatives or holders of positions directly appointed by the President, such as District Commissioners, as the law does not require such officials to hold academic qualifications beyond the ability to read and write.

Some civil servants were found to possess certificates that did not match those issued by academic institutions, while others were found to be using certificates issued to other people.

The President ordered all those whose names are in the document to voluntarily leave their jobs within two weeks or otherwise face seven-year jail terms. He also ordered any salary payments for them to be suspended.

Some of those whose names appeared on the “list of shame” have maintained their innocence, claiming possession of genuine credentials. They have said they are considering an appeal against the dossier.

Further, several commentators noted that dismissing such a large number of civil servants at the same time could have a significant negative impact on public services and public administration, particularly as there was already an estimated shortage of around 50,000 public servants in health, education and justice sectors.

“We should expect quite a disruption on social service delivery due to lost expertise and experience,” said Prof Gaudens Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University.

“It is sad 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 people in the same government be forgiven while others are made accountable,” he said.

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 should have pardoned all who were found with forged certificates and should focus his attention instead on preventing use of fake certificates among future 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,” she said.

The Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) said they intend to file a case against the controversial Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, over alleged use of fake academic certificates. TLS President Tundu Lissu said that claims had been circulating widely that Makonda is using another person’s certificate and his real name is Daudi Bashite.

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