Q&A – 26 February 2024

Dismissal on Ground of Religion

I am Director of Human Resources in one of the hospitality companies. In a recent management meeting we considered terminating some of our employees who have been refusing to work on their worship days. Due to the nature of our industry, it is difficult to close on the weekends to allow employees to have time for worship. Our Company is required to offer services seven days a week and we are afraid we cannot keep employees who cannot work on weekends. We request your guidance on this.
RZ, Dodoma

The freedom of worship is one of the basic human rights guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and recognised by other international human rights treaties which Tanzania has ratified. Section 7(4)(g) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act (ELRA) provides that no employer shall discriminate against an employee in any employment by virtue of its policy or practice on religious factors or grounds.

Superior Courts of the country have decided in a number of cases that it is substantially unfair to terminate an employee because she/he has refused to work on her/his worship day. For those reasons, your intended move will very likely be against the law and will be declared unfair by our Courts.

To further guide you, section 24(1)(b) of the ELRA requires employers to provide weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours between the last ordinary working day in the week and the first ordinary working day of the next week. Hence you have to provide a resting day to the employees on the weekend to allow them to worship.

Landlord Demanding Repairs for Flood Damages

I am renting an apartment in one of the municipalities. Our apartment and the entire neighbourhood was constantly flooded during the recent El Niño rains. A lot of the infrastructure in the apartment was damaged during the rain. I have considered ending my lease and moving to another area to avoid similar flood problems in the future. Last week, I notified my landlord about my intention to end the lease as stipulated under the lease agreement but his reply surprised me. My landlord demanded that I should leave the apartment in the same condition as it was when the lease began. He further added that I repair the apartment including the damage caused by the floods. I do not believe this is fair. Why should I repair the apartment while the damage was caused by something that was out of my control and likely because of the landlord’s own construction? What does the law say about this?
FS, Morogoro

We are sorry to hear about the damage to your apartment. It is true the El Niño rains have caused devastating impacts to many households. Since you were renting the apartment and had a lease agreement with your landlord, your relationship is governed by the Land Act [CAP 113 RE 2019]. Usually lease agreements contain the terms binding on the landlord and the tenant. However, even if certain terms are not stated in the lease agreement, the Land Act may consider them implied terms and thus are part of the agreement.

In regard to your question, section 89(1)(c) of the Land Act [CAP 113 RE 2019] summarily provides that it is implied in every lease that a tenant will yield up a building in the same condition as they were when the term of the lease began. However, the tenant is not bound to repair damages or restore the building to the same conditions they were at the beginning of the lease, where the damage or deterioration of the conditions is caused by reasonable wear and tear, accidents not caused by negligence of the tenant, disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and civil commotion. Assuming you are not withholding any information, the damage caused due to flooding is not for you to repair. Your lawyer can guide you further.

Saying Personal Vows in Marriage Ceremony

We are a recently engaged couple residing in Tanzania. As we begin preparations for our wedding, we were wondering if is it permissible to say our own vows during a wedding ceremony under Tanzanian law?
D&E, Dar es Salaam

Matters of marriage are governed by the Law of Marriage Act [CAP.29 R.E. 2019] (LMA). The LMA provides the manner of contracting marriages which also includes the marriage/wedding ceremony.  Section 25 of the LMA states that marriage may be contracted in Tanzania in a civil form; where both parties belong to a specified religion according to the rites of that religion; in Islamic form; or according to customary rites in case both parties belong to a community or communities which follow customary law.

In that regard, saying personal vows depends on the manner in which the marriage is contracted. For religious weddings, the rules surrounding personal vows may vary depending on the specific religious traditions. Some religions may strongly encourage or even mandate the recital of traditional religious vows while others may allow couples to incorporate their personal vows. For civil marriages, couples may choose to say their own vows during the wedding ceremony after the official portion of the ceremony.

According to Section 29 of the LMA, marriages in civil form may be contracted in the following manner: (a) the intended husband shall say to the intended wife words to the following effect either in English or Kiswahili— “I (giving his name) take you (giving her name) to be my wife ” and the intended wife shall say to the intended husband words to the following effect either in English or Kiswahili: “I (giving her name) take you (giving his name) to be my husband.” The marriage shall thereupon be complete but the parties shall be at liberty to add any additional rite.

Our answers are based on the details you have provided. However we encourage you to consult with the officiant or religious authority to determine the guidelines and requirements regarding vows for your specific type of wedding. Congratulations and all the best in your upcoming nuptials.