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Tanzania's 'solution' to unemployment: make joblessness illegal

The Tanzanians have found a new answer to the unemployment problem. They have made it illegal to be without work. Hundreds of unemployed are being directed out of the capital, Dar es Salaam, and ''repatriated'' to their home villages where, it is claimed, they are provided with land to work on.

In the first wave of repatriations this fall, more than 600 jobless people were sent home in trucks and by railcars.

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The government has set up city centers to examine whether people have work. About 6,000 people - including housewives, employed workers, and businessmen - were required to produce identity cards proving they had employment. Those who could not were detained for repatriation.

Tanzanian authorities plan to conduct house-to-house searches to find unemployed people.

Labor and Social Welfare Minister Albert Tandau has warned that people who attempt to sidestep the operation face legal prosecution. The law requires all able-bodied persons to work.

All employed people are getting identity cards. Businesses have been asked to submit employee lists.

By directing labor into the countryside and into farming, Tanzanian officials are convinced they can alleviate food shortages. One official says the capital alone consumes half the food supply.

The operation began by rounding up people in the streets, in beerhalls, and in lodging houses during working hours. A recent poll showed 22,000 people have registered as jobless and agreed to work on farms and in rural industries.

In the past, attempts have been made to persuade the jobless to return to rural areas, but the current effort marks the first time Parliament passed an act to conscript them.

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Some Tanzanians, however, complain of harassment and maltreatment by police in the roundup drives. Many say those arrested have been left without food in the detention centers.

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