Q&A – 4 January 2016

Unmarried with children

Is it illegal to have children if you are not married? Do you have to be married to have a sexual relationship? How many kinds of marriages are there? How long are marriages supposed to last?
GI, Mtwara

Before we answer your questions you must understand what marriage is. Luckily it is defined in the Law of Marriage Act of Tanzania. Section 9 defines it as (1) Marriage means the voluntary union of a man and a woman, intended to last for their joint lives. (2) A monogamous marriage is a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. (3) A polygamous marriage is a union in which the husband may, during the subsistence of the marriage, be married to or marry another woman or women.

Coming to your questions, you have raised some very interesting points and the answers to both is no. You don’t need to be married to have children although for certain rights like custody, child support, you would be in a better position if you were married.

Also to have a sexual relationship you need not be married so long as you are of legal age. Sexuality as addressed by you is not regulated under our laws, although we are told there are a few laws of other countries that regulate it but which are not applicable here.

Our law also recognizes two main forms of marriage that is to say– (a) those that are monogamous or are intended to be monogamous; and (b) those that are polygamous or are potentially polygamous. (2) A marriage contracted in Tanzania whether contracted before or after the commencement of this Act, shall- (a) if contracted in Islamic form or according to rites recognised by customary law in Tanzania, be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to be polygamous or potentially polygamous; and (b) in any other case, be presumed to be monogamous, unless the contrary is proved.

Further, a marriage contracted in Tanzania may be converted- (a) from monogamous to potentially polygamous; or (b) if the husband has one wife only, from potentially polygamous to monogamous, by a declaration made by the husband and the wife, that they each, of their own free will, agree to the conversion.

Notwithstanding the above, no marriage between two Christians which was celebrated in a church in Christian form may, for so long as both the parties continue to profess the Christian faith, be converted from monogamous to polygamous and the provisions of this section shall not apply to any such marriage, notwithstanding that the marriage was preceded or succeeded by a ceremony of marriage between the same parties in civil form or any other form.

A marriage shall subsist until terminated- (a) by the death of either party thereto; (b) by a decree declaring that the death of either party thereto is presumed; (c) by a decree of annulment; (d) by a decree of divorce; or (e) by an extra-judicial divorce. These are the only ways a marriage comes to an end. Hence any thoughts you might have of a short term marriage that automatically expire like a contract are not legal in Tanzania although we know other countries allow such relationships.

CTA at airport

I am told Carrying on Temporary Assignment (CTA) visas are not issued at the airport. What options does a short term engineer have when he enters Tanzania for a few days to repair machines. Please guide me as we are confused.
FP, Dar

It is true that the CTAs have been abolished. Unfortunately at the airport we are informed that even business visas are not being issued and all tourists and businesspersons are being issued with tourist visas.

For your engineer, whilst the CTA was the most convenient visa that matches his or her requirements, there is as of yet no replacement. We agree that a short term permit takes more than a few days to get and by that time your engineer would have finished his or her assignment and left.

You will appreciate that the abolition of the CTA is to curb illegal activities by some employers who keep on renewing them for their staff without getting a full time class B permit. This has affected genuine companies like yourselves who are now left with no relevant permit for a short term assignment. We are however informed that this issue is being looked at and some more directives will be issued soon.

What happens when I die

I am really unsure what will happen to me when I die? Can you guide me.
TY, Dar

If anyone knows what will happen when you die, then that person will probably be a millionaire today. And the last people to know will likely be lawyers! However if your question is what you should do to plan when you are dead, or rather before you die, then we have a good list for you.

First and foremost you must have a Will. You need not be rich or poor to have a Will. It is critical you list out your wishes, and whom you want to give what in your Will. It is, by far, the most important document you will ever make in your life time. Unfortunately, it is also the most neglected and some very rich, powerful and successful people who know about the importance of their Wills have died without having one.

Second, and to ensure your families well-being, it is not unwise to get a life insurance policy, or an education policy for your kids in the event you die. Death is uncertain and you need to spend time with your family to plan for it. We have noted many people run away from discussions of death.

Making a Will takes a very short time, and hardly costs anything. However its impact on your family lives a life time. Once again, we recommend you have one in place.