Q&A – 7 February 2011

Compulsion by husband

My husband is a controlling and strict man. He rules us with a heavy hand and a small mistake can lead to a severe beating to anyone including me. I have no formal education and am entirely dependent on my husband for my livelihood and hence cannot contemplate divorce. In a recent incident, our house girl had left meat on the stove and forgot. The meat got burnt ruining the stove and causing a mess in the kitchen. When my husband got home and found out he was furious and ordered me to hit the house girl. I couldn’t and he started hitting me and told me he would only stop if I hit the house girl. I hit her with a broom on the head couple times and have now been charged with assault with intention to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH). After the arrest my husband decided to dump me and I got bailed by my neighbor. What should I do?
MN, Tanga

Such cruelty is not uncommon and the law does come to your rescue. In the penal code there is a provision which states that if a woman commits an offence save for murder and treason, under the direct presence and compulsion of her husband, it will be a good defence for that woman against the offence in which she is charged if she can prove beyond reasonable doubt that she only committed the said offence because her husband forced her to do it. You should direct your defence in that direction, and assuming all that you told us is the truth and you can prove this in Court, it is likely that you will be acquitted.

We must however caution you that assault with intention to cause grievously bodily harm as opposed to common assault is a very serious offence. Grievous bodily harm means really serious bodily harm. In your case it would depend on the size of the broom, weight, where you attacked the person, how sharp the assault weapon was and why you decided to hit the maid on the head as opposed to any other part of the body. GBH also includes psychiatric injury but excludes mere emotions such as distress or fear.
Although we believe you have a good defence, in view of the seriousness of the offence, we would advise you to consult your attorney.

Can a foreigner own land

We are a foreign company and wish to own land in Tanzania. My accountant tells me that we can do so, whilst my lawyer informs us we can’t. I am totally confused- should we proceed and purchase the land? If we are disallowed to own land we shall be very disappointed as in this era it would be very weird for such a law to exist. Please advice.
GL, Dar

Much as we would like to please you, we have no choice but to disappoint you. The Land Act 1999 very clearly states in section 20(1) that for avoidance of doubt, a non-citizen shall not be allocated or granted land unless it is for investment purposes under the Tanzania Investment Act, 1997. Section 20(4) further states that for the purposes of this Act, anybody corporate of whose majority shareholders or owners are non-citizens shall be deemed to be non-citizen or foreign company.

Your accountant is referring to s435(2) of the Company’s Act 2002 which states that from the date of registration under this Act and so long as it is registered, a foreign company shall have the same power to hold land in Tanzania as if it were a company incorporated under this Act.

The confusion is caused by the Company’s Act allowing land ownership of foreign companies and the Land Act disallowing this. However the Land Act further states that on and after the commencement of this Act, notwithstanding any other written law to the contrary, this Act shall apply to all land in Mainland Tanzania mid any provisions of any other written law applicable to land which conflict, or are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Act shall to the extent of that conflict or that inconsistency cease to be applicable to land or any matter connected with land in Mainland Tanzania.

Having read the above, you will note that the Land Act prevails over the Company’s Act and you cannot own land as a foreign company in Tanzania unless you are registered under the Tanzania Investment Act 1997.

Coming to what you call the weirdness of the law. Every country has its policies and the current land policy in Tanzania disallows company’s who come into Tanzania to seize land for speculative purposes. There is nothing weird about this as in if you require land for your project, you can easily approach the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) in Dar and get a certificate of incentives processed. There is a process to follow which is quite streamlined. The TIC is known for its efficiency and you should not hesitate to contact them.

Types of work permits

I intend to invest in Tanzania and wish to know how difficult it is to get a immigration permit. What types of permits are there and where does one start? If I want to employ an expatriate, what do I do?
PL, Botswana

There are 3 types of residence permits which anyone intending to reside in Tanzania for business or work or for any other acceptable purpose is issued with. These are class A, for self-employed foreigners (investors); class B, for foreigners having secured jobs in Tanzania; and class C, other classes of foreigner such as missionaries, students or volunteers.

The power to issue a residence permit is vested in the Director of Immigration Services and applicants who are not satisfied by the Director’s decision may appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs.

As a prospective investor, you have to apply for a class A permit and will be required to submit amongst other documents certificate from the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), covering letter from the applicant, curriculum vitae, educational certificates (if appropriate), company registration, memorandum and articles of association, evidence of business premises, sectoral approval from any relevant ministry if applicable, share certificate and copy of passport pages authenticating nationality and validity of passport.