Conflict management in Tanzania's civil service: an illustrative case from the ministry of education and culture

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University of Dar es Salaam
The study explores Conflict Management in the Tanzania Civil Service in the 1990s. The study investigates factors that hinder smooth Conflict Management in the Civil Service institutions using the Teachers' Crisis of 1993 in the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC) as an illustrative case. The basic assumption of the study is that there has been ineffective conflict management in Tanzania's civil service institutions due to not adhering to the proper and appropriate conflict management procedures. The study identifies four factors and/or procedures which relate to conflict management in the civil service institutions in Tanzania, namely awareness of the existence of conflicts, joint authority-employees identification of sources or issues in the conflict, identification of relevant actors in the environment and substantive discussion of issues and options. The findings basically confirm the mishandling of these procedures. On awareness of existence of conflict, MOEC authority and/or government was not aware of the conflict (ie. the teachers' crisis) for there was no effective communication and information flow. There were no appropriate decisions and pronouncements by the Ministry authorities which could alert the government and employees on the existence of the conflict and the need for sound directives for conflict management and resolution. The findings indicate further that the MOEC did not organize a joint discussion with the teachers in an attempt to identify sources or issues in the teachers ‘crisis. This has contributed to divergent perceptions of sources and issues behind the crisis. The study also discloses that the actors who intervened in the teachers' crisis were identified collectively by the parties concerned, and therefore they lacked authority and legitimacy. The intervention proved ineffective in resolving the teachers' crisis. The research also established that the mismanagement of the teachers' crisis was by and large a consequence of inadequate discussion of issues and options in a frank manner. The government reacted emotionally and harshly to the teachers' demands without giving due consideration to their opinions and views. It is the bureaucratic rather than the participatory approach which dominated the attempt to manage and resolve the teachers' crisis. Finally, it is the contention of the study that ineffective conflict management style abounds in the civil service institutions and therefore recommend adherence to conflict management principles and procedures. This calls for conflict management training in the civil service institutions, which will have to include the democratic principles of openness and transparency.
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Civil service, Conflict management, Tanzania
Mwaimu, A. S. M. (1996) Conflict management in Tanzania's civil service: an illustrative case from the ministry of education and culture, Masters’ dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (