Q&A – 28 November 2016

Meeting with Donald Trump

I am a Tanzanian and might be lucky enough to get an appointment with Donald Trump, President elect of the greatest nation on earth (at least till today not sure about next year). You do not need to ask how I am about to get the appointment at Trump towers in Florida but I am surely going to meet him. My question is on his values and what he has been saying about African countries and other people in general. He has made racist, sexist remarks including derogatory statements about Africa which includes Tanzania. If I meet Trump can I be charged under our laws for having met or having a relationship with a person who might not share the values of Tanzania. I do not want to come back and get arrested in Tanzania. Please guide if I should proceed meet him.
FE, Mwanza

We see no harm in you meeting Donald Trump as long as your meeting is not meant to harm the interests of the United Republic in any way. You have not told us what the subject matter of your discussions are going to be, but if you stand in a press conference with him and make any threatening remarks that are unjustifiable or make you a threat to public security in Tanzania, then on your arrival you will surely be questioned or arrested.

Further, our little knowledge of American geography reveals that Trump towers is in New York not Florida, just in case you end up going to the wrong address when you indeed do get this appointment. We wish you all the best.

TRA letters in Kiswahili

We are a foreign company which has started receiving correspondences on our tax affairs in Kiswahili. We find that rather strange and are unable to respond because of the language barrier. Can we force TRA to write to us in English? What options do we have?
HH, Dar

The Tax Administration Act is clear in section 29 that the official languages for the purposes of tax administration shall be both Kiswahili and English language. It further states that where any communication or document which is relevant in applying a tax law to a taxpayer is not in an official language, the Commissioner General may, in writing require the taxpayer to provide an official translation of the communication or document.

You can see that the tax laws allow the TRA to write to you in Kiswahili, nothwithstanding that you are a ‘foreign company.’

Further, we find it strange that you are unable to respond to TRA when you surely employ local Tanzanian employees who can translate the letters. If you dont, you might be in breach of Tanzanian immigration and labour laws. All in all we think your reasons are flimsy and no defendable.

You have no options but to respond to TRA and we strongly recommend you do that.

Contract with non standard definition

I am a Tanzanian businessman having entered into a contract with a British company for the supply of certain software. After signing the contract, I was surprised at how they have defined a certain term. It is a common word in the industry but their definition in the contract is not what the ordinary definition is. I would like to interprete the contract based on the ordinary definition and they are refusing, saying it is well defined in the contract I signed. What should I do?
CF, Dar

To begin with, before signing any documents, you should read every word contained in such documents. It is sad that you have entered into a contract and have then decided to challenge a definition that is already in the contract document. In your question you have not mentioned what ‘that’ word is and what the contract defines it as. We will however answer your question generally. The clearest way in which a contracting party can give a special meaning to a word, is to include a definition of that word in the contract, as is the case in your contract. Generally speaking, the Court will apply definitions given by the parties, no matter how different the definition may be to the ordinary meaning of that word. Even if a word is not specifically defined, the court might decide that the parties have used the word in a special sense, and not in accordance with the ordinary dictionary meaning. However in coming to such a conclusion, the court will only look at evidence found in the contract itself ie the particular context in which the word was used.

In your case, it is very unlikely that a court will accept the ordinary meaning of the word, since the same word is clearly defined in the contract that you have signed.

Foreign divorce

I got my divorce in the UK few months ago. I am a Tanzanian national and wish to know if I need to get my divorce decree registered here. My first marriage was blessed in Dar-es-salaam six years ago.
DL, Mwanza

Our law of Marriage Act recognizes  decrees’ passed by any Court of competent jurisdiction in foreign Countries. The foreign divorce decree are effective and registrable in Tanzania regardless of where the contract of marriage arose. There is a standard procedure to follow for such registration.

Application for registration of foreign decrees for divorce is made to the offices of the Registrar-General in the administrator general’s offices known as RITA. It is adviseable that you register the decree at the soonest possible.