Tanzania: Why City Law Company Sacked Fatma Karume Over 'Political Activism'

Dar es Salaam — Law firm IMMMA Advocates said yesterday that it parted ways with its long-serving partner Fatma Karume because of her "political activism".

This was after Ms Karume posted on Twitter a letter addressed to her and signed by IMMMA Advocates managing partner Sadock Magai, which informed her of the firm's decision to sever all relations with her. However, the letter did not explain the reason behind the decision.

The Citizen contacted Mr Magai by telephone last night to seek details.

He said the law was not happy with the way Ms Karume was involving herself in "political activism", especially on social media platforms - adding that such conduct brought the law firm into disrepute, and adversely affected its business relationship with its clients.

Moreover, the law firm was of the view that Ms Karume had breached the partnership agreement between the two parties.

The firm comprised a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, and has been a premier provider of legal services in the country and in the African continent.

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"Please be advised that the equity Partners (other than yourself) met on September 16, 2020, to deliberate the relationship which subsists between them and yourself and resolved that they no longer wish to carry on the business of IMMMA Advocates in common with you..." read the letter in part.

"You will be compensated in accordance with Article 3.5(b) and other relevant provisions of the Partnership Agreement and applicable law" the law firm said in its letter to Ms Karume.

The law firm also has issued Ms Karume with a 30-day notice to make necessary arrangements to return the firm's possessions, and smoothly handover of all matters which she was currently handling on behalf of the firm.

Reached over the phone, Ms Karume criticised the firm for not giving her an opportunity to defend herself.

"Two weeks ago, they sent me a letter asking me to stop political activism or they would fire me. I told them I'm a lawyer, and it's my job to speak on society's behalf," said Ms Karume, adding that yesterday's decision came as a surprise.

Incidentally, the High Court of Dar es Salaam on September 20 last year temporarily suspended Ms Karume from practising in Mainland Tanzania over the remarks she made in her submission in a case challenging the appointment of Attorney General Adelardus Kilangi.

It was in this case that her former employer (IMMMA Advocates) intervened to challenge the Court's ruling in favour of its partner (Karume). However, the Court is yet to lift its suspension.

"It was also due to this matter that we reached the decision to remove her from the firm. The signed Partnership Agreement clearly states that the eligible partners must have operating licences, which she doesn't have," said Mr Magai.

Mr Magai also told The Citizen that Ms Karume - who joined the law firm in 2007 - had skipped office activities since August this year.

However, Mr Magai said, the door was open for Ms Karume to appeal to the Court if she is not satisfied with the decision. In any case, he insisted that the firm had no intention of accepting any apology from Ms Karume.

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