LABOUR and Employment Minister Gaudensia Kabaka is making a point on foreign employers conducting business in Tanzania.
Addressing the meeting of Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) in Dar es Salaam on Friday, the minister issued a directive that requires all foreign employers to prepare a monthly audit of their employees. Among other things, this special audit would comprise salary, gender and citizenship of individual employees.
The minister's directive comes at a time when complaints have reached the labour office that some foreign companies are discriminating local employees when giving remuneration packages. This is not the first time such complaints are put on the spotlight.
Earlier on, some companies including one mobile phone service provider, came under scrutiny for discriminating local employees. Minister Kabaka had to make an abrupt visit to some of the offices to get first hand information on what was happening.
The minister was greeted with a myriad of complaints that some employers were unfairly paying salaries to workers, on the basis of one's nationality, rather than qualifications and experiences. Generally, employers who discriminate locals have a very weak argument, saying Tanzanians don't speak English, are dull and not really competent in whatever they are assigned to do.
There are those who believe that locals can never deliver while others just don't trust them for no obvious reason. Other employers believe that Tanzanians are too shy to question or even react to any act of oppression. But any employer worth the name, cannot welcome such flimsy excuses.
When you are in a foreign country, you must obey the law of the land. If you breach regulations, you must be held accountable. That is what happens everywhere in the world. We understand that foreigners are essential partners in development. In some areas of expertise they are badly needed.
However, we can assure those discriminating the local people and causing misery, that we shall not sit and watch. Some action will certainly be taken against them. Tanzanians are human beings, just like others in the rest of the world, aren't they? You pierce them, they bleed. Why can't they be accorded equal treatment with their foreign fellows? It is good to see that the labour ministry has demanded this special audit of employees.
The fact that inspectors for the government will be sent to various companies to verify the authenticity of any report sent to the labour office, is also encouraging. However, for this important initiative to bear fruit, the labour ministry will have to make the monthly reports public, as long as labour laws are not flouted. Experience shows that when action is taken but no details are made public, the impact is negligible.
The public would be more than delighted to know who the perpetrators of this outdated mode of administration are, and perhaps avoid being hired by them. All said and done, Tanzanians are a friendly people and investors should feel at home while working with us.
There are many opportunities in various sectors including agriculture, hotel and tourism, education, fishing and the list is endless. The goal for coming to this country to invest must however, be mutual understanding and trade partnership.