Tanzania has given foreign petty traders a one-month notice to close shop and leave the country or risk arrest and prosecution in law courts.
Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Lazaro Nyalandu announced the government decision, warning that the
axe would also fall on persons assisting foreigners to take up residence in the country in order to sell merchandise
on the streets.
Though the minister did not allude to any foreign nationality, it is understood that the order is directed at people
from the Far East, largely Chinese, who in recent years swarmed Tanzanian towns to do small businesses in competition
with indigenous traders.
“Although some of them originate from countries that have close friendship with Tanzania, there is no friendship before the
law and no one will be spared,” Nyalandu said during a tour of Kariakoo central market in Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial capital.
“Every country has its own set of laws which must be respected,” Nyalandu added.
Many foreign petty traders here sell household goods, cosmetics, mobile phone sets, beddings and similar
items, often at giveaway prices in order to beat their local competitors.
According to the deputy minister, the government considers the situation to be serious and it cannot stand and
watch Tanzanians being denied their business opportunities by foreign intruders.
Several foreigners jostle for spaces for business in the crowded sectors of Dar es Salaam and, according to
local officials, they were using their shops to repack and re-export goods, especially shoes, artificial
flowers and leather products, to neighbouring land-locked countries.
According to Jerry Slaa, Mayor of Ilala municipality where most of the foreigners do business, it had proven difficult
to bar their business because they held class ‘A’ work permits which are usually issued to investors.
Slaa said that municipal authorities would within the next 30 days draw up a list of all investors-turned-petty traders
for the Home Affairs Ministry to take appropriate action.
For example, the Mayor cited some foreigners who entered Tanzania with plans of setting up fruit processing
factories or shoe making industries, but ended up importing and selling motorcycles in Kariakoo area