Q&A – 7 January 2013

S class Mercedes for wife

I am a very beautiful woman and have many admirers. Most women don’t admit this but I will openly tell you that I decided to get married to someone rich. Before marriage, he promised to buy me a 2011 “S” class brand new Mercedes Benz which he hasn’t till date bought. He says his cash position is tight which I know is not the case and he is taking advantage of already being married to me not to fulfill his promise. Can I file for divorce as I do not want to live with a dishonest man? Surely the law provides for beautiful women to be treated properly.
GK, Dar

The Law of Marriage Act of Tanzania provides for grounds for divorce which can be filed when the marriage has irreparably broken. The following grounds are provided for:
(a) adultery committed by one of the parties to the marriage, particularly when more than one act of adultery has been committed or when adulterous association is continued despite protest; (b) sexual perversion on the part of the respondent;
(c) cruelty, whether mental or physical, inflicted by the respondent on the petitioner or on the children, if any, of the marriage; (d) wilful neglect on the part of the respondent; (e) desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for at least three years, where the court is satisfied that it is wilful; (f) voluntary separation or separation by decree of the court, where it has continued for at least three years; (g) imprisonment of the respondent for life or for a term of not less than five years, regard being had both to the length of the sentence and to the nature of the offence for which it was imposed; (h) mental illness of the respondent, where at least two doctors, one of whom is qualified or experienced in psychiatry, have certified that they entertain no hope of cure or recovery; (i) change of religion by the respondent, where both parties followed the same
faith at the time of the marriage and where according to the laws of that, faith a change of religion dissolves or is a ground for the dissolution of marriage.

From the above, it is quite unlikely that your non delivery of the Mercedes falls into any category. Surely not buying you the Mercedes Benz cannot be deemed cruel. If you purely petition to divorce on the reason of the Benz, we think you might not be successful in the divorce.

We must mention that in other jurisdictions, unlike Tanzania, a divorce can be filed by consent of the parties. In Tanzania, the case is different as you cannot collude and go to Court to get a divorce. Yes, the Law of Marriage Act is outdated but it remains as good law today.

Lastly, the Act does not distinguish between beautiful women and ugly women- after all beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Your attorney can guide you further.

VAT on property

I bought a property from an individual private person for Tsh 500M. I did not pay VAT as I am not registered for VAT and neither is the seller. TRA have come back and have asked me to pay VAT on this transaction. Is VAT applicable on this transaction?
UT, Dar

The VAT Act in section 4 gives the scope of VAT and states that VAT shall be charged on any supply of goods or services in Mainland Tanzania where it is a taxable supply made by a taxable person in the course of or in furtherance of any business carried on by him.

It further states that the VAT on a taxable supply of goods or services shall be payable by a taxable person at the end of a prescribed accounting period or at any time which the Commissioner may prescribe.

Not being registered for VAT does not mean you do not pay it. However it does seem to us that VAT should not apply in this particular transaction since the seller was a private person and very likely that the sale of the property was not in furtherance of any business carried by the seller. If it is in furtherance of his business eg he trades in properties in his own name, then VAT is payable. Your tax consultant can guide you further.

Private marriage ceremony and non-issuance of notice

I want to marry but I want a very private marriage ceremony. I don’t want to issue public notice of intention to marry and I don’t want anyone to attend the mass where the marriage will be held. I am simply a very private person hence I would like to know whether the laws of Tanzania allow such ceremonies.
KJ, Arusha

The Law of Marriage Act provides that where a man and a woman desire to marry, they shall issue a notice at least twenty-one days before the day when they propose to marry. However the Registrar-General may, by licence in the prescribed form, dispense with the giving of notice, as required under the law provided he is satisfied that the parties are not within the prohibited relationships, there is no impediment of subsisting marriage, the parties are not below the minimum age of marriage and if they are under the minimum age, then the required consent is obtained and the Registrar General must be satisfied that, there is some good and sufficient reason for so doing.

Hence it is possible to dispense with the requirement to give notice as required under the law provided you fulfill the stipulated requirements and the Registrar General dispenses with the requirement to issue a notice. However, the law is clear that any person may attend the civil marriage ceremony hence we don’t believe that you can have a private marriage ceremony; however you can have a private reception with only a limited number of persons or you may decide not to invite anyone to your reception party and enjoy it yourself.