By ALVAR MWAKYUSA, 26th March 2011 LOCAL workers in the insurance sector are up in arms with their employers over alleged favouritism towards foreign employees. In a four-page electronic mail dated February 2, this year, sent to the Commissioner of Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA), Mr Israel Kamuzora, the local employees complained that Kenyans and Asians are favoured - often occupying high-ranking positions at the expense of the locals. "It is a well rooted syndicate involving most private foreign insurance firms and brokers. They only consider nationalities from Kenya and Asia for higher posts in their companies," they charge in the letter. The disgruntled workers stressed that they were not complaining just out of envy or low understanding, but rather due to mistreatment by their foreign employers. "Whenever there is a vacancy for a managerial position, they (the employers) usually allege that there are no qualified Tanzanians to fill it," the letter reads in part. Mr Kamuzora is also understood to have written to the Association of Tanzania Insurers Chairman (TIA), Mr K. V. Krishnan, regarding the issue and proposed a meeting between the parties involved. "I have been receiving anonymous messages with serious allegations against insurance employers in our industry. The whole issue is about foreigners and us the locals," reads part of the letter to Mr Krishnan. In the letter dated February 8, 2011, Commissioner Kamuzora proposed a meeting between players in the industry in the quest to address the matter. "It will be very grateful if all of us shall give this matter, the weight it deserves," Mr Kamuzora wrote. Whether that meeting was convened or not is still unclear but Commissioner Kamuzora told the 'Daily News' in an interview that there would be a meeting on April, 1, this year, to discuss the issue. "It is true that there have been complaints from local Tanzanians in the sector. This will come up for discussion on April 1 where all respective stakeholders will be present," Mr Kamuzora said on the sidelines of an occasion to launch the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) in Dar es Salaam recently. The workers cited one of the insurance firms which, on its top ten managerial posts, only one position is occupied by a Tanzanian. "We (Tanzanians) could have our weaknesses. We don't want to be favoured but fair treatment is crucial," they pointed out in their letter, worried to mention their names for fear of being victimized. According to the latest insurance performance report of 2009, the total insurance industry workforce as at the end of 2009 consisted of a total of 2,545 members of staff, compared to 2,604 in 2008. This decrease, the report states, was mainly attributed to a massive staff retrenchment exercise carried out by NIC (National Insurance Corporation) during the year under review, as part of its on-going restructuring initiative. Out of these, 886 employees (34.8 per cent) were working in insurance companies (2008: 38.8 per cent), while 1,659 (or 65.2 per cent) were engaged in insurance agencies, broking houses and loss assessors and adjusters' firms. At the end of December 2009, the sector grew by 21.2 per cent to 231.2bn/- from 190.9bn/- in 2008. In the report, Mr Kamuzora cited lack of facilities in the country for training professionals in the field that have direct bearing to the development of the industry including, actuarial science and other related risk management studies, as among the challenges afflicting the sector. During the period under review, the largest share of general insurance business 24.5 per cent was held by Alexander Forbes (T) Limited followed by AON Tanzania Limited, 17.7 per cent and MIC Global with 15.6 per cent. The three handled about 58.0 per cent of the entire general insurance broking industry business, while the rest transacted the remaining 42.0 per cent.