Following an extensive debate in Parliament, the Government of Tanzania has decided not to implement the proposed amendment to the Probate and Administration of Estates Act, Cap. 352 (the Probate Act), which would have prohibited foreign nationals from inheriting land in Tanzania. The decision is well received by members of the international community and foreign nationals as it has instilled confidence in the preservation of lawful rights attached to land ownership in the country.
At the end of 2019, the Government of Tanzania through the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2019, Act No 8 of 2019 (the Bill) proposed to amend section 108 of the Probate Act by adding a sub-section which (i) prohibited the executor/administrator of estates to distribute the estate of the deceased person comprising of land to a non-citizen, and (ii) limited any such distribution to non-citizens to the proceeds realised from the disposition of the land.
The Land Act, Cap. 113 and the Probate Act are silent on the issue of inheritance of land by non-citizens. In 2011, precedent was set in the courts in the case of Emmanuel Marangakis as Attorney of Anastasios Anagnostou vs The Administrator General, Civil Case No. 1 of 2011, which held that non-citizens can own land through inheritance. The proposed amendment was intended to close that loop-hole and it raised a number of concerns because it forced the sale of land which one may not otherwise have parted with or perhaps would have opted to sell at a later date.
Historically, the laws passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, rarely vary substantively from the proposed amendments circulated in the relevant bills. In this case, and likely due to the concern of stakeholders, the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act, 2020 (Amendment Act), assented to by the president on 14 February, 2019 and which became effective on 21 February 2020 specifically removed the amendment to section 108 of the Act.
Partner, A&K Tanzaniagd@tz.africalegalnetwork.com
Partner, A&K Tanzaniasda@tz.africalegalnetwork.com