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Q&A – 8 January 2018

Gifts to public officials

Is it legal if I take a public official for lunch in a nice restaurant? Can it amount to bribing the official? What about when I gift an official for Christmas?
PP, Dar

Generally, there is nothing wrong in taking a public official for lunch in a nice restaurant. It depends on your motive for invitation for lunch. For example, if your motive is to convince the public official to give you a favourable treatment, taking an official for lunch will be contrary to both the anti-corruption law and code of ethics for public officials.

For example, section 15 (1) (a) of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act 2007 makes it an offence for a public official to solicit, accept or obtain any advantage as an inducement or reward for provision of certain services to the person who offers such advantage. Similarly, section 15(1)(b) of the Act makes an offence any person to give a gift as an inducement to a public official in anticipation of favourable treatment from that public official. In other words a public official is prohibited from accepting any gift from a person in exchange for favourable treatment.

Depending on your motive (i.e what do you expect in return from the official), a Christmas gift that intends to induce an official to act in your favour is unlawful.

Generally speaking the Code of Ethics and Conduct for the Public Service Tanzania 1995 prohibits a public official or any member of his/her family to receive presents in form of money, entertainments or any service from a person that may be regarded as geared towards compromising his/her integrity. However, a public official may accept or give nominal gifts such as pens, calendars and diaries in small amount. A public official is required to return to the donor any other gift or handle them over to the government, in which case a receipt will be issued.

If you are unsure what amounts to bribery and what doesn’t, it is not unwise to consult your attorneys.

Traffic police causing accidents

I have noted with the greatest concerns that the highway from Dar to Dodoma has some outrageously low speed limits in areas where there is no such basis. It is quite clear that no one has bothered to do a survey again on what speeds should apply where. The number of accidents is caused by such speed limits because drivers then use opportunities in other areas to overspeed to catch up with the lost speed. In short the accidents are on the rise because of the speed limits and overstrictness by traffic officers in those areas is leading to overspeeding in other areas where it is known the traffic officers are not present. Can you guide me what to do? Also on the road from the airport to town, there is a speed limit on the highway of about 30 Km/h, no wonder there is always traffic on that road.
BN, Morogoro

This is not a legal question but we found the contents valuable information that the Traffic Police and Tanroads might want to look into. We suggest you write to them directly for their appropriate action.

Misleading adverts by company

There is a particular mobile company that shows some of the most beautiful Tanzanian girls mingling with men. I have tried everything that is proposed there to look and feel ‘cool’ but I have not been successful in getting close to any of these girls. Such fantasies of beautiful women who are real and ready to mingle are misleading and I want to sue the mobile operator for this misleading advertisement. Can you help?
II, Dar

It is unlikely that we can help you as we don’t see anything wrong with the adverts. The mobile company is selling its products and not anything else. By seeing the advert, they are not saying that by acting like the actors there you will suddenly land into a relationship with a beautiful woman. It is very unlikely that any Court will entertain your case but your lawyers can further study this.

Threat to publish taxpayers name

The TRA are threatening to publish my company name in the newspapers as a tax offender. My case is still at the Tax Revenue Appeals Board and has not yet been called for hearing. It would be defamatory for my company to be published as a tax offender whilst the matter is yet to be decided. Can TRA do that? What should I do?
TT, Mwanza

Section 97 of the Tax Administration Act gives the discretion to TRA to publish in newspapers or any other media in Tanzania a list of persons who have repeatedly failed to pay tax on time after having been notified by the Commissioner General, or have been convicted of an offence. If your case is still at the Board, it is not finally determined and hence it would be premature for TRA to advertise under section 97. Unless there are other facts you have not disclosed to us, we believe you can alert TRA accordingly. Should that fail, you have the right to file for an order against the TRA not to advertise your name pending final determination of your case.

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