Over 500 temporary foreign workers arrested in Tanzania

President  John Magufuli immigration policy is likely to alienate supporters in the region

President John Magufuli immigration policy is likely to alienate supporters in the region

Under the heavy escort of the immigration officials, Tanzania’s anti-foreigner crackdown has netted more than 500 temporary foreign workers since exercise began last week. The Tanzanian government is tightening foreign worker policies with the aim of “freeing up jobs for the nationals.”

President John Magufuli’s “Operation Timua Wageni” has drawn reginal condemnation and criticism many arguing the policy goes against the spirit of the East African Community economic integration.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Jenista Mhagama revealed a total of 680 temporary foreign workers with working permits had been working in the country without resident permits thereby breaking the country’s immigration laws.

According to the government, very few workers have applied for resident permits. Zakayo Mchele, Immigration Officer in Mtwara said the unit has arrested over 360 workers of the Nigerian Billionaire Aliko Dangote’s Cement factory for working without proper permits.

It was later established that over 100 of those arrested were in the middle of the application process to obtain the permits. The authorities also arrested the factory’s  Head, Vidya Digixt for non-compliance.

In addition, more than 150 workers have also been arrested in Dar es Salaam following a similar operation and John Msumile, Dar es Salaam Regional Immigration Officer told reporters Monday they expect to nab more than 400 illegal employees in the next few weeks.

He urged the general public to abide by the governing laws and employers including the government to facilitate their employees with all legal paper work. Reports surfaced last week indicating the victims of the immigration sweep will be deported back to their home countries.

However, speaking today in Zanzibar, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Eng Hamad Masauni appealed to immigration officials to be ethical and observe human rights as they execute their duties. “Tanzania as other countries across the world we welcome visitors. We are all aware of their contribution in tourism and economic investment we cannot flush them out by humiliating them … we have to stick to order and professional ethics,” he said.

The deputy minister vowed the government will continue supporting the department materially and financially in this endeavor.

Tanzania’s perceived anti-foreigner drive has infuriated Kenyans given the fact that hundreds of Kenyan private teachers are practicing their trade in Tanzania thanks to teachers’ woes in back home. Many Kenyans have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to respond aggressively and in similar fashion by deporting Tanzanians working and living in Kenya.