PUBLISHED ON March 23rd, 2015

Foreign workers face tougher times in Dar

Tanzania’s parliament has passed the Non-Citizens Employment Regulation Bill, 2014, which once signed into law, will make employment conditions for foreigners on the Tanzania mainland more stringent.

The Bill — which if assented to by the president, could come into effect from July 1 — introduces tougher rules for foreign and local companies that intend to recruit foreigners. Indeed, some lawmakers have termed it retrogressive.

Tabled by Labour and Employment Minister Gaudentia Kabaka, the Bill suggests, among other things, that any person who intends to employ a non-citizen prepare a succession plan for the position to be taken over by a Tanzanian.

It also creates a Work Permit Register, to be kept and maintained by the Labour Commissioner to record information related to work permits and certificates of exemption.

“This law will help the country to have one institution for issuing permits to non-citizens and we will have more Tanzanians employed as well as create proper identification of foreigners working in the country,” said Ms Kabaka.

However, MPs in the opposition criticised the Bill, saying it had many irregularities that needed to be addressed first. They said the Bill gave more discretionary powers to the Labour Commissioner and the minister, who could abuse it.

The Bill suggests that any person who wishes to employ a non-citizen shall apply to the labour commissioner for the work permit and before approving the application, the commissioner shall ensure that all possible avenues have been explored to obtain a local expert.

The Labour Commissioner must also verify that the work permits are in line with regional and bilateral agreements that the country is signatory to.

MP Zitto Kabwe (Chadema) warned against rushing to pass the Bill, saying the government should first satisfy itself that the law will not contravene East African protocols on free movement of labour that Tanzania has ratified.

He said it is absurd for Tanzania to pass the Bill since Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have abolished work permits for East African residents. Ismail Aden Rage (CCM) said the law should give more employment opportunities to Tanzanians.

“I don’t think it is right to find a foreign human resource manager in a public institution while there are many local job seekers in the country,” he said.

Felix Mkosamali (NCCR- Mageuzi) said the proposed Bill was weak as the changes would only affect Tanzania mainland, leaving Zanzibar out.

Mr Mkosamali said the government needs to identify which jobs that can be done by residents and which by qualified foreigners.

Ms Kabaka said the Bill was introduced because of various economic changes and technological demands. She said the proposed law was also brought before parliament due to the confusion created with the current Act, which enables two authorities to provide work permits to foreigners.

If assented to, the law will affect mining and gas companies and neighbouring country Kenya, whose citizens work in managerial and service positions.

According to Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics, the current unemployment rate in the country is 10.70 per cent. However, the rate averaged 11.88 per cent from 2001 until 2011, reaching an all-time high of 12.90 per cent in 2001.

Source: The East African

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