Monday, March 5, 2018

IMTU enters into troubles, attempts to evade rental fee

HIGH Court’s Land Division has ordered two plaintiffs to pay the government over 2.6bn/- as rental fees of the premises from where they are currently operating.  The amount includes 40m/- monthly rent payable from September 2012 to date and 200m/- awarded as counterclaim to the defendant, the National Development Corporation (NDC), against the plaintiffs. Judge Moses Mzuna ruled in favour of the state owned NDC, dismissing with costs the land suit lodged by the two plaintiffs, the International Medical and Technological University (IMTU) and Registered Trustees of Vignan Educational Foundation Bangalore, India. “We appreciate, much as IMTU had conferred degrees to many Tanzania’s doctors who graduated from the university. However, upon being fully fledged, the plaintiff must pay rent so that even the government can benefit from collected tuition fees,” the judge said. He said in the judgment dated February 27, 2018 that exception from payment of tax should not be construed to mean non-payment of rent. According to the judge, it was not the intention of the government to allow investors to invest in the country to the detriment of the nation and its citizens. The plaintiffs are joint ventures working in Tanzania. They were allowed by the government of Tanzania to run IMTU. Since they had no building to operate, the institutions were accommodated at the Saruji Corporation owned premises upon signing a lease contract. It came out that Saruji Corporation was among the companies which were under liquidation. Its properties worth over 3bn/- were transferred to NDC, under the supervision of the defunct Public Sector Reform Commission (PSRC). Therefore, NDC claimed that they became the new landlord of the plaintiffs, as they were housed in the premises on Plot No. 2338, which was later changed to No. 2348 Block H. Thereafter, NDC issued an eviction notice to the plaintiffs due to failure to sign the new lease agreement and payment of the rent due. The plaintiffs then instituted the suit, arguing that they did not recognise NDC as their landlord. 

They sought restraint orders not to be evicted, extension of further term of 25 years, payment of general damages plus costs of the suit, among others. The complainants joined in the suit the Attorney General and three other senior government officials as necessary parties for alleged breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the government and Vignan Education Foundation Bangalore, India. Other necessary parties were Chief Secretary in the President’s Office at State House and Permanent Secretariesin Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training and that of the Finance and Planning. In the MoU, the plaintiffs were promised to be offered some plots. In his judgment, however, the judge noted after going through evidence by both parties that there was no lease agreement entered into between the plaintiffs and the defendant. If the plaintiffs rely on the MoU, he said, such agreement expired since August 2011 and no single cent as rent was paid since then. “It cannot be said with any degree of certitude that the defendant was a party or breached the lease agreement or that they cannot enter a new lease agreement. With respect, that may be a layman’s point of view,” Judge Mzuna said. Referring to the evidence produced by plaintiffs’ witnesses, the judge said that there were various correspondence letters showing that the government would offer the plaintiffs plots and maximum cooperation towards achieving that goal as agreed in the MOU. He noted further that one of the correspondences related to a letter by the Chief Secretary that the plaintiffs should sort out their demands with the relevant ministry. However, he said, the plaintiffs never heeded to that directive. “Actually two plots had been allocated to them (plaintiffs). Further, they ignored the offer for the plots at Bunju, Kibaha and Kigamboni. Payment of rent under the circumstances is inevitable,” he concluded.

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