On October 11, 2021, the Parliament of Tanzania introduced a few amendments to employment and immigration laws, especially on provisions relating to employment and labour relations for foreigners or expatriates.
The said amendments were introduced through Miscellaneous Amendment Act No. 4 of 2021 and Miscellaneous Amendment Act No. 5 of 2021 which were published in the special Government Gazette No. 41. Vol.102.
We may recall that a few of many compliance issues which were criticized for chasing away investors and immigrant workers included immigration and employment hurdles caused by the not so conducive employment laws to investors.
Before these changes, many have been accusing the government of delaying and rejecting work permits.
In 2018, Vodacom incoming CEO was denied work permits by the Tanzanian labour commissioner, though the reasons were undisclosed, analysts have pointed out ambiguities and unfriendly legal and regulatory provisions in the said laws were the cause.
Though these amendments were in regards to a number of laws, for the purpose of clarity and brevity this article shall be restricted to mainly the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act (No. 1 of 2015). To address some of the complaints below are the changes which have been introduced.
Removal of police officers
Under these laws, one of the notable changes was the removal of police officers among the personnel authorized to exercise powers and duties under these laws.
Essentially before changes, a police officer had the power to require any person who is a holder of a work permit or a certificate of exemption to hand it over for a detailed inspection or present themselves for inspection at a specified time and place.
The powers according to some speculations have highly been misused.
Introduction of online application
Before the changes usually, a person who wished to engage or employ a non-citizen employee would have to apply for a work permit prior to entry of the prospective employee and the said application were to be done physically by a prescribed form.
The changes to this law have added a provision that requires the Labour Commissioner to establish an electronic system for the application and issuance of work permits.
Validity period of a work permit
Before the changes, the valid period for a work permit for an expatriate was only valid twenty-four months and its renewal period would not be exceeding a period of five years in total.
With the new changes that period is extended to eight years.
Incentives to certified investors
Previously, certified investors through Tanzania Investment Center and other Special economic zones were given an immigrant quota of only five people. With the new changes, these investors are allowed to employ up to ten people.
Despite the seemingly impactful reforms above, it must be noted that this law is administered under the labour division within the Ministry of Labour and Employment in which there was a recent reshuffle which witnessed a change of its bosses who sceptics think might not align with the spirit behind these changes as they were not there.
Normally, in administering the law it is never about what the law specifically says but the powers given to the ones who are administering it.
Thus, the power of changing and or modifying the application of the laws through regulations as they “deem fit” is conferred within the very same law.
Now the big question is, will the new leadership uphold the spirit behind these changes?
Hopefully, that might be the case.
Emmanuel Mwesiga is experienced in commercial and corporate law transactions and advisory. He can be reached through email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @EsquireMK. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo Initiative. Want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for further inquiries.