Q&A – 30 January 2012

Misuse of Water

I have a broken tap at home which causes water to pour around the surrounding areas and which I have not managed to fix because I have been extremely tied up in work travelling around Tanzania. The tap has only been broken for less than a month but the water authority came to my home and informed me that I was required to visit Court. On the due date I went to Court and shockingly was placed before a Magistrate and charged with the offence of intentionally wasting water. I have never heard of the offence as there are so many taps which leak throughout Dar es Salaam and no action has been taken against them. How serious is this offence? It seems someone is trying to make money from me.
PD, Moshi

The Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority Act provides that it is an offence for any person to carelessly waste water or negligently misuse water. This is for the simple and logical reason that there is scarcity of water and we must conserve water. In your case, you should have fixed the tap the moment it was broken because there are many areas in Dar es Salaam and across the country which do not have water due to low levels of water.

What you have been charged with is an offence which is duly provided for under the law and if found guilty, you can be held liable to pay a fine of not exceeding one hundred thousand or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding three months or to both. We suggest you take this very seriously.

A couple of observations from your question. First, when you said you were asked to visit the Court, you should have immediately known that it was not merely a request but an order, in that you were being summoned to Court. A Court is a fountain of justice and not a place you merely ‘visit’. Secondly that just because other taps are leaking does not mean you do not make time from your ‘busy’ schedule to repair it. Lastly, the fact that the tap has been leaking for a month is enough evidence for the prosecutor to convict you under
the offence. We recommend you get an attorney to guide you on this.

HIV compulsory testing

I applied for a job as a receptionist in a company in Dar and was accepted after undergoing a vigorous interview. I was then informed to go to a designated hospital and get my blood tests done. When I went to hospital, the attending lab technician took my blood and attached it to a form that showed what tests were to be done. I realized that I was to be tested for HIV and immediately refused to proceed. I took the blood sample with me and left the hospital. Can the company test me without my consent? Is this not illegal?
WO, Dar

The HIV and AIDS prevention Act provides that HIV testing shall be done at the consent of the person concerned. No person is under obligation to undergo HIV testing without his or her consent unless the Court has ordered so or the person is donating blood or organs or the person is a sexual offender. To the best of our knowledge, you are neither of these.

What the company did is illegal because even the Employment and Labour Relations Act prohibits any kind of discrimination among employees of the company hence whether the employee is HIV positive or not should not, generally, interfere with his or her employment.
The Hospital may also be liable in that they proceeded, or nearly proceeded, to test you for HIV without getting your consent. You have a cause of action against both your prospective employer and the hospital. Your attorney can guide you further.

Company with one shareholder

I wish to register a company in my name and wish to be the sole shareholder. Is this allowed?
WP, Dar

The Registrar of Companies will not allow you to register a company with less than two shareholders. One of the Companies Act sections reads as follows: If at any time the number of members of a company is reduced below two, and it carries on business for more than six months while the number is so reduced, every person who is a member of the company during the time that it so carries on business after those six months and knows that it is carrying on business with fewer than two members, shall be liable (jointly and severally with the company) for the payment of the whole debts of the company contracted during that time.

The Business Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2011 is a new bill that is being debated in parliament and once approved by parliament, shall allow a company to have a single shareholder/member. This new change states as follows:

A limited liability single shareholder company shall be formed by one member.
The company’s list of members shall contain: (a) the name and address of the sole member; and
(b) identification and a statement that the company contains only one member.

It further states that where the membership of a limited liability single shareholder company increases from one to two or more, the occurrence of that event shall be entered into the company’s register of members with-
(a) the name and address of the person who was formerly the sole member; (b) a statement that the company ceased to have one member; and (c) the date on which that event occurred.

The amendment also adds that a company or any officer of the company who contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine of shillings five million or to imprisonment for a term of two years or to both.
If this Bill passes parliament, you will be able to register a company with only one shareholder.

Meanwhile you have the option of registering a business under your own name as a sole proprietor. This will give you full control of the company. The only major drawback is that the liability of the sole proprietor is not limited and any claims against this sole proprietorship company will spillover to all your personal assets