Q&A – 31 May 2021

Application for parentage of a child

I impregnated a woman 10 years back but have never provided maintenance costs for the child since she was born, nor have I declared to anybody that I am the biological father of the child. My child’s mother passed away recently and the child is now staying with her aunt. What can I do to legally be declared father of  the child and be granted custody?
ML, Morogoro

Section 34 of the Law of the Child Act [Cap. 13 R.E 2019] prescribes the procedure for getting a Court declaration of parentage. The person seeking declaration of parentage is required to make an application to the Juvenile Court for declaration order that she/he is a parent of the child. The application for declaration of parentage should be lodged in the Juvenile Court before the child attains the age of 18 years. If the child has attained the age of 18 years the applicant must first seek leave of the Juvenile Court before instituting the application for parentage. The reason is that ordinarily the power of a Juvenile Court is limited to matters affecting children under the age of 18 years and hence the proceedings concerning a person who is18 years or above requires leave of the Juvenile Court.

Parentage may be proved by marriage performed in accordance with the Law of Marriage Act; name of the parent entered in the birth register; performance of customary ceremony by the father of the child; public acknowledgement of parentage or DNA results. The Court may order the person claiming parentage to submit medical proof as the Court may consider appropriate in the circumstances of the case. Where the parentage of the father is not supported by the mother or independent evidence, the Court may order a DNA test to be conducted for the purpose of clearing the doubt and proving the biological father of the child.

Once a person is declared a biological, he assumes all the responsibilities of a father to the child as if the child was born in wedlock and the child also becomes entitled to inherit from the person declared a father.

Section 37(2) of the Law of the Child allows a juvenile Court in the same proceedings for declaration of parentage, to grant custody of the child to the applicant on conditions as the Court may deem fit to impose. The Court may, at any time revoke the grant of custody given to a person declared a parent by the Court and grant custody of the child to another person who might not necessarily be a parent. In revoking custody of the child and granting it to another person, the Court primarily considers the best interests of the child. Application for revocation of the custody of the child can be made by a relative of the child, social welfare officer, the child by his next friend or guardian of the child. You are guided accordingly.

Deactivation of SIM cards

I registered my SIM card in 2017 but left Tanzania 2 years ago to pursue studies abroad. When studying abroad, I stopped using my sim card but kept it in a secure place so that I could reuse it when back. Now that I am back I am surprised to be told by my friends that when they try to reach me, my calls are picked up by someone with a woman’s voice, which has raised suspicion with my wife. I have found out that the network operator gave my line to a new subscriber. Is it permissible in law for a network operator to assign a registered line to another person when it belongs to me?
PL, Dar

Under regulation 8(3) of the Electronic and Postal Communications (SIM card Registration) Regulations, 2018, a network operator is required to deactivate a SIM card and recycle it if the line has remained idle for 90 days consecutively. However, the operator is not supposed to deactivate a SIM card for being idle for 90 days if the subscriber notified the operator in writing that she/he would not use the line for a certain period of time. However, notifying the operator in writing cannot salvage the subscriber if the latter has not used the line for a period exceeding 12 months. If the line is not used for more than 12 months, the operator is required by law to deactivate the SIM card and recycle the SIM card despite a written notification by the subscriber.

In view of the above and considering you failed to use the line for over 1 year, the mobile operator had a good reason to deactivate your SIM card and assign it to another person. As for the woman’s voice, if your wife reads this response, we are sure she will understand!

Period for erection of a building

In 2016 I was given a building permit by the Municipal Council to start erecting a building on my plot. Because my business was not doing well, I was unable to start the project till January this year. Surprisingly, the Municipal Authority has served me with a letter ordering me to stop the project with immediate effect because 3 years have lapsed before the project took off and I have not sought extension of permit. Is there any legal substance in this letter? Please guide me.
KF, Dar

In view of section 33(1) of the Urban Planning Act, 2007 and regulations 17 and 20 of the Urban Planning (Building) Regulations, 2018, a person given a building permit is supposed to start the project within 6 months of the date of grant of permit and complete the project within 3 years of the grant of permit unless she/he makes an application to the planning authority for extension of time to commence or finish the project. Even with the extension, the aggregate number of days within which the project should be commenced should not exceed 24 months from the date of grant of the permit and should be completed within a maximum of 6 years from the date of grant of the permit.