Q&A – 29 August 2022

Conversion of marriage

I married three wives in accordance with the customary rites and have now been converted to Christianity. My pastor is telling me that men who truly follow Christianity cannot have more than one wife. How can I convert my polygamous marriage to a monogamous marriage? Can I divorce two of my wives and retain only one wife on the ground that I have been converted to Christianity which prohibits polygamous marriage? Please guide me as I am really confused.
MR, Mara

We can imagine your confusion.

Section 11 of the Law of Marriage Act [Cap.29 R.E 2019] does not recognise the conversion of a polygamous marriage to monogamous marriage. It only allows the conversion of a potentially polygamous marriage to a monogamous marriage if at the time of conversion of the marriage the husband has only 1 wife. Since you already have many wives, the law does not allow you to abandon other wives and retain one on the ground of your new faith, nor does section 107 of the Law of Marriage Act recognise a petition for divorce on the ground that the subsisting polygamous marriage is against the new faith of the petitioner which faith the petitioner has acquired after contracting the polygamous marriages. In short, you cannot convert your polygamous marriage to monogamous marriage or divorce some of your wives because of your new faith. Under our laws, it is not an acceptable ground for divorce.

Procedure for reversion of citizenship

Five years ago, I was married to a foreigner and after the wedding in Tanzania I left with my husband for his home country. In order to get a job in my husband’s country, I was required by their laws to renounce my Tanzania citizenship and apply for citizenship of that country, which I did. We are now divorced and I want to restore my Tanzanian citizenship. Can you guide me on what to do?
MS, Dar es Salaam

In terms of section 13(3) of the Tanzania Citizenship Act [Cap.357 R.E 2002], a woman who is a citizen of Tanzania by birth and who had renounced her citizenship upon getting married to a citizen of another country may, where marriage breaks down, apply for reversion of her Tanzanian citizenship.

As to the procedure, regulation 7 of the Tanzania Citizenship Regulations, prescribes the procedure for reversion of citizenship and requires the applicant to make a formal application to the Minister responsible for home affairs by indicating her intention to restore her lost citizenship by birth. The application to the Minister has to be accompanied by evidence proving that the applicant’s marriage has broken down irreparably. A divorce decree issued by a Court of competent jurisdiction, whether foreign or local may be used to support the application for reversion of citizenship. Where the Minister is satisfied with the evidence in support of reversion application, she/he shall give her/his consent in writing and the citizenship shall revert to the applicant on the basis of the Minister’s consent and the declaration of renunciation of Tanzania citizenship which the woman made when she got married to a citizen of another country shall be cancelled. The Minister may allow the reversion of citizenship with conditions which he may prescribe in the Gazette.

Hence you can make a written application to the Minister for reversion of your Tanzanian citizenship by birth. There is no statutory form for such an application for reversion of citizenship, so the application may be in a form of a letter addressed to the Minister for Home Affairs.

Effect of conviction of a traffic offence

Our driver has been convicted of a traffic offence on his own plea of guilty. Following his conviction, he was sentenced to pay a fine which he paid. In addition to the fine, the Court ordered his driving licence to be cancelled for a period of three years and the Court also disqualified him from obtaining a new driving licence during the period of cancellation of his driving licence. Can we terminate him from employment on the ground of his conviction?
LF, Mbeya

The employment laws do not prescribe conviction of a traffic offence as one of the grounds which warrant termination of employment. However, cancellation of the driving licence and disqualification from obtaining a new driving licence for a period of 3 years renders the driver redundant because the employer cannot assign him a car to drive. Assigning a person with a car to drive whose driving licence is cancelled or who is disqualified from driving is an offence under section 19(2) of the Road Traffic Act [Cap.168 R.E 2002].

Therefore, you can terminate the driver not on the ground of conviction of a traffic offence but on the ground of loss of qualifications to perform the job which he was employed to do. Before termination the driver has the right to be heard as to why his employment contract should not be terminated for loss of qualification to perform the job. In giving him the right to be heard, the management needs to serve the driver with a show cause notice requiring him to explain why he should not be terminated for loss of qualification to perform the job.

The decision to terminate then comes after the receipt of the response to the show cause notice. This process of termination for loss of qualification does not require holding a disciplinary hearing because the hearing has been done by the Court and orders have been made by the Court. The employee is only told to explain why he should not be terminated for loss of the qualifications he possessed at the time of his appointment. The driver will be entitled to all statutory dues before his employment is finally terminated by the employer for loss of qualification.