Q&A – 15 December 2014

Wearing army uniform

There is a certain place in Tanzania that I want to visit that only members of the armed forces are allowed. However I am able to borrow my soldier friends name tag and uniform. Can I do that? My girlfriend is also betting on whether I will be successful or not. Kindly guide.
OO, Dar

If this area is an area that civilians are not allowed to visit, then your girlfriend will end up coming to visit you in prison as you will be committing a serious offence.

Section 6(1) of the National Security Act provides that any person who, for the purpose of gaining or assisting any other person to gain admission to a protected place or for any other purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Republic (a) without lawful authority uses or wears any uniform of the Defence Forces or of the Police Force or any other official uniform of the United Republic or any uniform so closely resembling the same as to be likely to deceive, or falsely represents himself to be a person who is or has been entitled to wear or use any such uniform; or personates or falsely represents himself to be a person holding, or in the employ of a person holding, a public office, or to be or not to be a person to whom an official document or a secret official code or password has been duly issued or communicated, or, with intent to obtain, whether for himself or for any other person, an official document or any secret official code or password, makes any statement which in any particular he knows to be false or does not believe to be true commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.

We strongly urge you not to attempt to wear that uniform as although you can argue that your intent was not to harm any interests of the United Republic, by the time you manage to defend yourself, you will have spent a good number of years in remand prison, a place you don’t want to be in.

Your girlfriend should pick on some other topic to challenge you on.

Documents to support your case

I supplied goods to a government agency and have not been paid. The contract provides for all disputes to be adjudicated in Tanzania. However is straightforward nonpayment of amounts under a contract really a dispute? Furthermore, there are certain documents that I will need in my trial that are in the possession of the agency. Can I get such documents?

We start by answering your second question. To extract documents from the defendant is a common feature in Western country laws by way of what is called “discovery.”

Discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices including requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions. This might sound very peculiar but it is possible to tap into the other party’s documents that actually support your case.

The Government Proceedings Act section 18(1) specifically provides that subject to and in accordance with any written law (a) in any civil proceedings in the High Court or a magistrate’s court to which the Government is a party, the Government may be required by the court to make discovery of documents and produce documents for inspection; and (b) in any such proceedings as are mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection, the Government may be required by the court to answer interrogatories: Provided that this section shall be without prejudice to any law or rule of law which authorises or requires the withholding of any document or the refusal to answer any question on the ground that the disclosure of the document or the answering of the question would be injurious to the public interest.

It is important to note that this law also states that documents may not be disclosed if in the opinion of a Minister, it would be injurious to the public interest to disclose the existence thereof.

Based on the above, you can hence use the above provision of the law to discover the documents from the government agency.

As to whether nonpayment of an undisputed debt is a dispute, the short answer is that it is indeed a dispute and should you fail to get paid, you have all the rights to access the local Courts.

Subject to the amount involved, we would recommend the High Court, Commercial Division.

Fake notary public and Commissioner for Oaths

I know of an individual in town who is neither a notary public nor a commissioner for oaths but pretends to be one. Is this not an offence in Tanzania?
HJ, Dar

The Notaries Public and Commissioners for Oaths Act states in section 6 that (1) subject to the provisions of section 10, any person who holds himself out to be a notary public or commissioner for oaths or receives any fee or reward as a notary public or commissioner for oaths, unless he holds a valid certificate granted under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand shillings and for a second or any subsequent offence to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both.

The fake notary public and commissioner for oaths is therefore committing an offence which is imprisonable. Furthermore, all those documents attested by such a person will likely be held invalid.