Q&A – 25 March 2024

Age limit for marriage

I am a healthy 80 year old man and have a 29 year old girlfriend. Just as I was planning to get married, my cousin who is a self-proclaimed bush lawyer says that I am above the age for marriage especially considering that there is a 51-year gap between us. He says there is a recent change in law that intends to discourage elderly persons getting married at this age to protect their health. Is there such an age restriction for marriage and if so how can I work around it? It is high time I settle down with a second wife as I am in a polygamous marriage at the moment. My second question is whether my current wife can object to this marriage? 
FG, Dar

You are certainly energetic for an 80 year old.

We have gone through various amendments to the Law of Marriage Act and have not come across any such restriction that disallows you as an 80 year old to get married or remarried in a heterosexual marriage. There is a minimum age to get married, which doesn’t apply to either of you.

Whilst it is indeed encouraging that a person of your age is able to get a girlfriend 51 years younger, we must warn you that not being able to cohabit is a ground for divorce. Understandably there is medicine available to ensure that you are able to do so, but we thought it was pertinent to inform you of this risk.

On the objection, your wife can certainly object. The Act states that  where a man married under a polygamous marriage has given notice of an intended marriage, his wife or, if he has more than one wife, any of his wives may give notice of objection to the registrar or registration officer to whom the notice of intention was given, on the ground that (a) having regard to the husband’s means, the taking of another wife is likely to result in hardship to his existing wife or wives and infant children, if any; or (b) the intended wife is of notoriously bad character or is suffering from an infectious or otherwise communicable disease or is likely to introduce grave discord into the household.

Qualifications for Legal Aid

I am a farmer based in Rukwa. Most of the produce from my farm is used for subsistence and the rest is usually traded for basic household items. I also own a tractor which I rent out to other farmers in my village. I have a legal dispute with one of my neighbors over the use of my tractor and wanted to engage an advocate to assist me, however I cannot afford one.  I was wondering whether I qualify for legal aid. Please guide me on this.
SD, Rukwa.

Matters related to legal aid in Tanzania are governed by the Legal Aid Act [Cap. 21 R.E 2019]. Section 22 of the Act provides that an application for legal aid may be made by either an indigent person; any other person authorised by the indigent person or any person/institution on behalf of the indigent. Section 3 of the Act defines an indigent person as a person whose means are insufficient to enable him to engage a private legal practitioner and includes other categories of persons where the interests of justice so require.

A person who fits this definition may, according to section 21(1) of the Act, approach any legal aid provider and apply for legal aid services. Upon receipt of the application, the legal aid provider may proceed to process the case. The application will be assessed based on the legal aid provider’s procedures. Since we do not have all the facts of your situation our advice is limited. Your lawyer or a legal aid provider may guide you further.

Selling Noxious Food

I am a fish trader based in Dodoma. Lately, business has been difficult due to frequent power outages. Most of the fish in the freezer storage usually go bad and we resort to throwing away these fish. Surprisingly, last week I heard from my fellow traders that restaurant businesses are willing to buy rotten fish at half the current prices. I have considered selling to these restaurants to compensate for my losses. I am however hesitant since I don’t know what the law says about this. Guide me.
JP, Dodoma.

Section 181 of the Penal Code [Cap.16 R.E 2019] states that any person who sells or offers or exposes for sale a food or drink, any article which has been rendered or has become noxious, or is in a state unfit for food or drink, knowing or having reason to believe that it is noxious as food or drink is guilty of an offence. We sympathize with your losses, however, the law prohibits such kind of business. If what you said is true, even the restaurants you mentioned are committing an offence.

Marriage Ceremony without Witnesses

We are a couple based in Dar es Salaam. Our age difference has been a problem from the start of our relationship and my fiancé and I have faced strong resistance from our respective families and friends. Despite this resistance, we intend to secretly get married.  Is it possible to get married without inviting family or friends as witnesses?
EM, Dar es Salaam.

The Law of Marriage Act [Cap. 29 R.E 2019] governs all matters related to marriages in Tanzania. According to section 27(1) of the law, every marriage shall be contracted in the presence of at least two witnesses. The law does not require that the witness be family or friends. However, no person shall be competent to act as a witness to a marriage who is below the age of 18 years or who is unable to understand the nature of the ceremony because of mental illness or intoxication or who does not understand the language in which the ceremony is conducted, unless the whole ceremony is interpreted into a language which he or she can understand. This means any person can witness a marriage provided they are competent to do so. Remember. there must be at least two competent witnesses. Failure to adhere to this is an offence which, according to section 154 of the law, attracts a fine. We wish you all the best in your upcoming nuptials.