Q&A – 31 July 2023

Restriction on residents to maintain foreign bank accounts

I am a newly-appointed head of legal of a company operating in Tanzania. As I joined the office, I came across the Foreign Exchange Regulations, 2022 which prohibit residents from opening and maintaining bank accounts outside Tanzania. At our company, we have officials who are not Tanzanian nationals but have stayed in Tanzania for more than a year. Are they residents of Tanzania or foreign nationals? I am concerned if the Regulations are meant to cover these non-nationals who have been in Tanzania for more than twelve months  who would likely have had accounts for many years in their place of birth and/or residence. Do they have to close such accounts?
GK, Arusha

In terms of regulation 3(5) of the Foreign Exchange Regulations, 2022 (Regulations), a resident, other than a bank or financial institution, should not open or maintain an account outside the United Republic except for the settlement of securities in the prescribed territory; or unless expressly permitted by the Governor.

Regulation 2 of the Regulations defines a resident as a person who resides consecutively or whose centre of predominant economic interest is in the United Republic for 12 months or more. With this definition of the term ‘resident’, non-Tanzanians who have stayed in Tanzania for more than 12 months while maintaining bank accounts in their countries of origin fall under this restriction despite staying here temporarily for certain purposes.

However there has been a clarification on whether having already opened an account, or maintained an account in a foreign jurisdiction before coming to Tanzania is covered under the Regulations. According to the Bank of Tanzania, such ‘already opened foreign accounts’ by foreigners can continue to be operational. However, foreigners who become residents of Tanzania cannot open new accounts without getting permission from the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania.

Hence based on this clarification, the officials in your company who are foreign nationals but residents of Tanzania can continue to operate their already opened foreign bank accounts, but cannot open new bank accounts abroad without the permission of the Bank of Tanzania. This is indeed a welcome practical interpretation by the Bank of Tanzania.

Double punishment for reckless driving

I was charged with the offence of knocking a pedestrian and causing him bodily injury due to reckless driving. I pleaded guilty to the charge and the Court ordered I pay a fine of TZS 200,000 or serve one year term in prison. In addition to the fine sentence, the Court canceled my driving licence and disqualified me from obtaining another driving licence within a period of three years. I paid the fine and was set free. A year after I was set free, the victim opened a civil suit against me claiming compensation amounting to TZS 200M for causing him bodily harm due to careless driving. His claim is based on the same facts as the facts in the traffic case and he has in fact attached to his claim a copy of the Court decision in the traffic case. I doubt the legality of this suit because I already paid a fine for the same wrong I did to the claimant through the traffic case. Why should I pay twice for the same wrong? Is this suit legally proper? Please guide me.
OP, Mwanza

Section 68 of the Interpretation of Laws Act [Cap.1 R.E 2019] provides that the imposition of a fine under any Act does not relieve the offender from liability to pay damages to any injured person for the same wrong. Therefore the fine imposed on you by the road traffic Court under the Road Traffic Act did not relieve you from the obligation to compensate the pedestrian you knocked due to careless driving for the injury he sustained. The fine was imposed on you by the road traffic Court as an alternative punishment and not as compensation to the person you knocked. It is the civil suit the victim has filed which is intended to compensate him for the injury he sustained. The suit is legally proper in law as it is meant to address compensation to the victim whereas the traffic case was meant to punish you for violating the road traffic laws. The two cases serve different purposes and unless there are facts that you have not disclosed to us, the plaintiff cannot be faulted for suing you.

Husband claims maintenance from former wife

I was retrenched two years ago and since then have been depending on my rich wife for accommodation, food, clothing and other basic needs. My wife has filed a divorce petition in Court against me. Can I claim maintenance that she be ordered to pay me maintenance costs in case the Court grants the divorce?
GR, Mtwara

The law treats spouses differently. While men have the obligation under section 63 of the Law of Marriage Act to maintain their wives irrespective of the economic conditions of the wife, women have the obligation under the same section to maintain their husbands only if the husband is incapacitated wholly or partially from earning a livelihood by reason of mental or physical injury or ill-health.

In case of divorce, the Court can give an order under section 115(2) of the Act to a wife to maintain her divorced husband only if the husband is incapacitated wholly or partially from earning a livelihood by reason of mental or physical injury or ill-health. However, under the same section, men have the obligation to maintain their divorced wives who are jobless. For men being jobless on account of redundancy or otherwise is not a reason for the Court to order the wife to pay maintenance to the husband. In short, it is very unlikely that you will be able to claim any maintenance from your ‘rich’ wife.