Q&A – 22 January 2024

Youths arrested for being jobless

The local authority in our locality, with assistance of the peoples’ militia, have been conducting what they call “clean-up operation of the streets”. This operation was intended to restore peace and security by arresting thugs who have been chaotic to the residents in our streets. However during the operation the arrest targeted jobless youths on the ground that it is an offence to be jobless and that it is the jobless youths who are causing insecurity and breach of peace by robbing people. We would like to know if in the absence of proof that the jobless youths arrested are the ones robbing people, is there a justification for arresting a person simply because he is jobless hence suspected to be a thief? How can the law compel a person to work, especially in a situation like the one we are in where there is a serious problem of unemployment in the country and globally?
DE, Kahama

It is contrary to section 176(h) of the Penal Code of Tanzania [Cap.16 R.E 2022] for an able bodied person not to engage himself in productive work and have a visible means of subsistence. A youth or any person who is not disabled but stays idle without working and having a visible means of subsistence is deemed to be committing an offence called ‘being idle and disorderly’ and is liable, in case of conviction, to pay a fine not exceeding TZS 100,000 or to suffer imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 months or both.

In case an able bodied person continues to be jobless after his conviction for the offence of being idle and disorderly, he can be prosecuted for another offence of being of rogue and vagabond contrary to section 177(a) of the Penal Code which is a more serious offence than the offence of being idle and disorderly. The offence of being rogue and vagabond is punishable by 3 months jail term if it is a first offence and the subsequent offence is punishable by a 1 year imprisonment.

This is what you might not want to hear, but we confirm that the law criminalises being jobless though the offence is not called being jobless, and it compels every able bodied person to work and have visible lawful means of subsistence. The law doesn’t recognise the problem of unemployment as an excuse because able bodied persons can still engage themselves in agriculture and other petty activities that can lawfully generate income for them.

Walking with a firearm in public

I am a law abiding citizen and yesterday one of my neighbours, an ordinary civilian, decided to take a stroll around our neighbourhood while openly carrying a legally owned and registered firearm in a holster on his hip. As he made his way through the street, many people noticed it, something which made me quite concerned. When I questioned him on this, he said he has licenses and permits to possess a firearm. Enlighten me on the laws surrounding carrying firearms in public.
SS Kigoma

A civilian may possess a firearm provided he/she is licenced in accordance with the Firearms and Ammunitions Act, 2015 and the Firearms and Ammunition Control Regulations, 2016. However, walking with a firearm by a civilian in public is not allowed even for persons with licenses and permits to possess firearms. Section 84 of the Penal Code [Cap.16 R.E 2022] provides that any person who goes armed in public without a lawful occasion in such a manner as to cause terror to any person commits an offence and his arm may be forfeited in case he is convicted of the offence of going armed in public.

A person lawfully possessing a firearm is responsible for the safe custody of his firearm as well as observing all conditions in which the firearm has to be kept. This includes ensuring that he/she does not recklessly display the firearm in public. Failure to fulfil this responsibility is an offence which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. The fact that he was openly carrying the firearm is not only wrong but also dangerous.

Loan guarantor without consent

I have received several messages and phone calls from a microfinance company based in Dar es Salaam that my cousin listed me as a guarantor for a personal loan he took three months ago but has not been able to repay. I was not aware of this transaction and was never consulted when it happened. The company is threatening to take action against me unless my cousin repays the loan. What does the law say about this?
EM, Dar es Salaam

The Law of Contract Act [Cap 345 R.E 2019] provides guidance on this matter. Generally, a ‘contract of guarantee’ is a contract to perform the promise or discharge the liability of a third person in case of his default. Further, the person who gives the guarantee is called the ‘surety’, and the person in respect of whose default the guarantee is given is called the ‘principal debtor’, while the person to whom the guarantee is given is called the ‘creditor’.

It is true that a guarantor for a loan may be held liable in case the principal debtor fails to repay the loan. Courts in Tanzania have, in numerous cases, emphasised the need for guarantors to honour their promises. However, a guarantee is a promise that must be made by way of a contract which according to the law in Tanzania may be either oral or written. This simply means liability as a guarantor is contingent upon voluntarily assuming responsibility through a contractual agreement either orally or in writing. If you did not enter into a contract with the microfinance company and your cousin as a guarantor, you cannot be held liable for any obligations or liabilities arising from such a role. Unless there is information you are withholding from us, there is no action that can be taken against you.