Q&A – 5 August 2013

Quorum in parliament

I am a foreign lawyer and was visiting Tanzania few months ago. I was following the proceedings in your parliament and was shocked to see the parliament hall was nearly empty. I wonder how parliament can continue with its deliberations if the members of parliament are nowhere in the room. Like in other countries, and in other acts example companies acts, there is a minimum number required to be present before a meeting can continue. What is the position in Tanzania? Also does Tanzania have same privileges as in other countries on suing MPs on statements made during parliamentary proceedings? What if there erupts a fight in parliament?
PW, Dar

The issue of quorum that you have addressed above has been clearly captured in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania which states in Article 94 that (1) the quorum at every sitting of the National Assembly shall be half of all the Members of Parliament (2) Except where it is provided otherwise in this Constitution, every question proposed for decision in the National Assembly shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the Members of Parliaments present and voting (3) The speaker, the Deputy Speaker or any other person presiding over the sitting of the National Assembly shall not have a deliberative vote but shall have a casting vote in the event of an equality of votes. (4) The standing orders of the National Assembly may provide that any Member of Parliament who votes on any matter in which he has a personal interest shall be deemed not to have been voted.

From the above, you can see that for parliament to proceed with its business in the house, there must be a minimum of half of the MPs present. From our reading of the constitution, this is a mandatory provision and the parliament proceedings or session cannot continue if the quorum, which is provided for under the constitution, is not satisfied.

As for privilege for MPs, article 100(1) of the constitution states that there shall be freedom of opinion, debate and procedure of business in the National Assembly, and that freedom shall not be breached or questioned by any organ in the United Republic or in any court or elsewhere outside the National Assembly. Article 100(2) states that subject to the Constitution or to the provisions of any other relevant law, a Member of Parliament shall not be prosecuted and no civil proceedings may be instituted against him in a Court in relation to anything which he has said or done in the National Assembly or has submitted to the National Assembly by way of a petition, bill, motion or otherwise.

Whilst there is a blanket freedom and immunity from proceedings for a MP when in parliament as per the above, if there is a fight (physical one), than that is a criminal offence and the privilege does not extend to such a fight.

Hazardous work for pregnant woman

I am a technician in a company where I have been working for about four years now. Although the foreman knows that I am presently expecting and my due date is in the next two months, he has been assigning very hard jobs to me where I have to stand for long hours. I know he is intentionally doing this as my sister had turned down his proposal to marry him. Is there anything I can do to address this?

We wish to point out that the Employment and Labour Relations provides clearly that no employer shall require or permit a pregnant employee or an employee who is nursing a child to perform work that is hazardous to her health or the health of her child.

The test above is subjective and depends on what exact job is assigned to you. All in all, if the assignments given to you are hazardous to your pregnancy then that is against the law and the foreman needs to desist from such behavior.

As a matter of creating a good atmosphere at work place and preventing abuse of powers, you may report this to your superior otherwise the matter is actionable under the law above.

On a different note if you expect to deliver in one month we wonder why you are still at work. The same law has given you an option of commencing your maternity leave any time from four weeks before the expected date. You may hence also ask your employer to start maternity leave. Your lawyers can guide you further.

Advertising with national flag

There is a company I know that is misusing our flag and selling products as if the products have been endorsed by the United Republic. Is there no law that governs this?
RT, Dar

The National Emblems Act provides very clearly on unlawful use of National Flag, Coat of Arms or any likeness thereof by prohibiting any person to use the National Flag, the Coat of Arms or any likeness of the National Flag or of the Coat of Arms:
a. as a trade mark for any article sold or offered for sale;
b. in furtherance of or as an advertisement for any trade, business, industry, calling or profession;
c. on any article which is sold, offered for sale or intended to be sold or offered for sale;
d. on any article which is used by any person otherwise than for a purpose approved by the Minister.

Hence if the company or individual is using the flag as you claim, it is an offence and the person can be sentenced to two years imprisonment. You should proceed and report this to the police. However please be warned that not all usage of the national flag is illegal- you should consult your attorney for further guidance.