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Tanzania – Nepotism undermining recruitment agencies

11 September 2013

The number of recruitment agencies in Tanzania has been growing over the past ten years. The primary objective of these agencies is to support fresh graduates into work, according to The Citizen.

According to the Citizen, a few years ago, the government established the Public Service Recruitment Secretariat under the President’s Office, which among other things facilitates recruitment in ministries, independent departments, executive agencies, and other public institutions.

Every year, more than 30,000 graduates from both public and private universities, hoping to find employment through recruitment agencies, end up frustrated because, in order to get a foot in the door, it’s more about who you know and not what you know.

A significant proportion of graduates end up working with a relative, or in a position that a family member has helped them secure.

Job seeking graduates say deeply flawed recruitment processes in many companies mean that those without the right connection cannot find work, especially for job vacancies that attract hundreds, if not thousands of application letters.

Reports of nepotism are not new, and, according to The Citizen, they normally come and go without much attention. However, according to recruitment experts and some job seekers this unfair practice has now become deeply-ingrained in the labour market, as the government struggles to keep unemployment in check.

The rate of unemployment hovers around 11%, according to official statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Those worst affected are fresh graduates, who lack the experience and ‘connections’ that have increasingly become the two major factors for finding work.

Some Tanzanians argue that it is not the old-boy network in force, but a question of getting in front of someone who works in the relevant industry, and being remembered by them when the right opportunity arises.

Legal experts argue that nepotism is against the law although cases involving unfair recruitment practices rarely garner much attention, unless it’s centres on an abuse of office case in the public sector.

Abdallah Possi, a lawyer and academic at the University of Dodoma, explained to The Citizen that the problem is that Tanzania lacks a clear-cut binding human resource policy that applies equally to the public and private sectors.

He stated: “It is commonplace for even some public institutions to place a job vacancy in the newspaper as a formality after a position has already been occupied.”

He added that clear regulation will put in place recruitment guidelines on the recruitment processes, and protect young graduates to some degree against HR misconduct. “It will also save the face of the human resources profession by making sure that job seekers restore confidence in the hiring processes.”

Currently, there is no binding regulation in Tanzania that makes it mandatory for firms to explain why they have not hired a particular job seeker, even in clear cases of discrimination.

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