New bill: ‘we don’t need foreigners’

A proposed bill which would simultaneously simplify the work permit application process and make it harder to get one has been brought before Parliament for a second time. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

The new bill, which clarifies the work permit application process also makes it harder for companies to hire foreigners.  Photo: Daniel Hayduk

After debating the Non-Citizen Employment Regulation Bill for the second time, Members of Parliament (MPs) have passed the tough new bill.

The bill, which would give the Labour Minister sole power over the employment of non-citizens on mainland Tanzania, seeks to centralize power and reduce confusion caused by multiple government entities being able to issue work permits.

Labour Minister Gaudensia Kabaka says the bill simplifies the application process and would provide a conducive environment for foreign investments.

“The proposed law sets out a good base for the implementation of various regional agreements and protocol on movement of labour,” says Kabaka.

The bill also requires employers to have a succession plan in which expertise is transferred to local workers, but that’s not enough for some MPs.

“We don’t need foreigners to hawk here because we have our own hawkers,” says Special Seats MP Esther Bulaya, saying it would be good to curb the influx of foreigners doing business in the country.

Not all MPs took a xenophobic stance: Kilwa North MP Murtaza Mangungu says Tanzanians shouldn’t complain about lack of employment opportunities.

“There are some Tanzanians who do not have discipline in sleeping, eating, speaking or time management. It will be difficult for them to be employed in local or foreign companies.”

Other MPs questioned the motive behind giving excessive powers to the Labour Minister and wondering how the international community would react.

“Zanzibar is part of the Union. We have to make sure that the bill also touches the isles since the power vested on the Commissioner of Labour would not touch foreigners working in the Isles,” says Muhambwe MP Felix Mkosamali.

“This bill does not offer any relief to the problems of employment that Tanzanians face,” says Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe, “if we indiscriminately restrict foreigners, they are likely to retaliate at our expense.”

Kabwe says Parliament can’t ignore Tanzania’s international commitments such as the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol, which allows for free movement of labour within EAC member states.

The bill is expected to come into effect on July 1.

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