Q&A – 15 June 2015

Suing BoT governor for shilling depreciation

I am a loyal Tanzanian and concerned with the fall of our Tanzanian Shilling against the US dollar. I feel frustrated everyday as my business is highly dependent on a favourable exchange rate. My business is suffering as the exchange rate is lowering my turnover with my fixed costs remaining unchanged. Margins are virtually below 5%. I understand that it is the role of the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania to ensure that the shilling does not fall. I want to sue the governor for the losses I have been experiencing. Please guide me how to go about this.
DC, Mtwara

Admittedly, section 5(1) of the Bank of Tanzania Act No 4 of 2006 provides that it is the Bank of Tanzania’s functions to exercise functions of a central bank, to formulate, implement and be responsible for monetary policy, including exchange rate policy, to issue currency, to regulate and supervise banks and financial institutions including mortgage financing, development financing, lease financing, licensing and revocation of licenses and to deal, hold and manage gold and foreign exchange reserves of Tanzania.

The Bank of Tanzania is a body corporate with the capability to sue or being sued. The governor is an appointee and works for the Bank of Tanzania and is not the one responsible for currency fluctuations. The US dollar has been strengthening against almost all other currencies which has led to this local currency depreciation. Our governor does not regulate how strong or weak the US currency is as the currency is traded on international markets and it is the supply and demand of the US dollar that determines exchange rates. With all fairness to our governor, he has no magic wand to stop the US dollar from appreciating.

In addition to the above, we draw your attention to the provisions of section 65 of the Bank of Tanzania Act, on immunity given to bank employees against any suits. This provision is to the effect that notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, no action or other proceedings shall lie or be instituted against any member of the Board of the Bank, official
or employee of the Bank for or in respect of any act or thing done or omitted to be done in good faith in the exercise of powers conferred by the Bank of Tanzania Act.

Whilst you cannot be stopped from suing anyone you want, the governor inclusive, we believe you have very low chances of succeeding.

Termination procedure when employee dies

We are a foreign company in the supply chain services in the oil and gas industry. Our question is what procedure should we adopt after one of our local employee passed away. Is there any termination procedure? The deceased contract was to expire 1 year ahead. Please guide.
TR, Dar

The labour laws expressly provide that a contract of employment may be terminated automatically in certain circumstances such as death or loss of profession of the business (sequestration) of the employer.

With death, the only issue remaining issue is to effect payment for terminal benefits of the deceased to his estate. This amount can only be ascertained by examining terminal benefits in the deceased employee’s contract of employment. We further advise you to make these payments to the legal representative of the estate of the deceased who shall in turn ensure that all true heirs of the deceased are paid.

A legal representative is normally appointed by a Court with competent jurisdiction through either grant of letters of administration or grant of probate. Your legal advisor can guide you further.

Suit filed against dead person

I sued a certain man whom we had a contract with many years back. I must admit that we had not been in touch for quite some time and I was not sure about his whereabouts until recently when I discovered that he had passed away even before filing of this civil case. What should I do as the case is pending in Court? Should it be heard in his absence?
YT, Arusha

It is perplexing that you filed a suit against a person whose whereabouts you did not know. However, suits by or against dead persons are brought by or against the legal representative of the deceased be it an executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. Executors or administrators are duly appointed by the Court of competent jurisdiction in probate proceedings.

In your situation, things would have been different if at the time of filing the case the defendant would be alive. The law governing civil procedure i.e. for civil cases provides for procedure to be followed in case of death of the defendant. We think the best recourse in your case is to withdraw the case with liberty to refile it.

Furthermore, case laws provides that in circumstance like yours, a decree against a dead person is a nullity and is not executable, unless the executor steps in, which is unlikely. This maybe argue conversely and we recommend your lawyer guide you further.

Boss refuses dog in office

I was working outside the country and recently arrived to work in Tanzania. I have a pet dog who is very close to me and part of my life. However, my boss does not allow me to go with my dog to the office. Is this proper under Tanzania labour laws? I feel like it is unfair and discriminatory to my dog?
QS, Dar

It is the employer who controls the work place. We understand that each work place has its own manners of controlling matters like attire, behavior and manner of conduct to mention a few. The Tanzanian labour laws also allow employers to implement disciplinary policies and procedures that establish the standard of conduct required of their employees.

Apart from being abnormal going to work with your dog, who cannot help you in any way, we find it hard to understand where the dog would be stationed whilst you are working. Imagine the chaos if a policy were to be implemented allowing dogs and other pets at the workplace. Much as this is not what you want to hear, we believe your boss has full justification to disallow your dog.