Tanzania traders’ strike expands to other cities, police deployed

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Thursday June 27 2024

The strike has spread to the regions of the country as it entered its third day, with traders pressuring the government to address their concerns.

Tanzania traders are continuing with their strike, with the movement now expanding to other parts of Dar es Salaam and across different regions in the country.

The strike, which started in Dar es Salaam’s Kariakoo on Monday, a popular market area in the country and one of the busiest in East Africa, stems from traders’ dissatisfaction with the multiple taxes and collection methods executed by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

The strike has spread to the regions of Mbeya, Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza, Songwe, Mtwara, Geita, and Iringa as it entered its third day, with traders pressuring the government to address their concerns.

Even though it was initial local media reports stated that the strike announcement was a hoax, it later turned out to be reality on Monday when most of the shops in Kariakoo were closed.

Read: Kariakoo market boycott a win for democracy in Dar

While the strike continues to spread, the government said on Wednesday that it was working on the concerns of traders, noting however that implementing all of them immediately would have far-reaching ramifications on the execution of some national development projects.

Police have been deployed in Mwanza as traders’ strike in Tanzania continues for a third day and has expanded to other regions, including Dodoma, Mbeya, and Iringa.

Police say the street patrols are to ensure safety of traders who’ve chosen to open their shops despite the strike

— TheCitizenTz (@TheCitizenTz) June 26, 2024

The reaction by the Finance Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba as delivered in the Parliament, comes at a time when the traders’ strike entered its third day on Wednesday.

Dr Nchemba told the Parliament that implementing a concern to reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 18 to 12 percent would result in a revenue shortfall of Tsh600 billion ($230.3 million) at once, hence affecting the execution of the ongoing mega projects.

Traders want the government to put all taxes within a single collection basket while the fines imposed on them whenever they go contrary to business norms must also be reduced to the level of traffic offenses.

They also claim that the issuance of receipts should not be considered another tax because, to them, they [receipts] are just like a new form of harassment.

They want TRA to stop a tendency to seize their goods and its TRA’s tendency to refuse to accept traders’ financial statements that have been prepared by registered accounting professionals.

But Dr Nchemba said, “The government was working on the concerns, but it needed time to find alternative revenue sources to fill the budget gap that would be left by the removal or reduction of some of the taxes as proposed by the traders.”

In the city of Arusha, some traders also closed their shops for two hours before deciding to open them, claiming that they were waiting for the response of their leaders who went to Dodoma to negotiate with the government.

However, they have said that they will join the businessmen of other regions to continue the strike if the meeting of their leaders and the government do not respond to the arguments they presented.

As the business strike in Mwanza entered its second day, police officers on foot and in vehicles were seen patrolling various streets of the city, while shops remained closed.

The Citizen observed police vehicles filled with officers traversing the streets from 12:30 to 3:00 pm this Wednesday. Some officers were also seen patrolling on foot around the city.

Read: Traders at largest TZ market strike in rare protest

When asked about these officers, the Mwanza Regional Police Commander, Wilbroad Mutafungwa, confirmed the deployment of police personnel in the city streets. He emphasised that their role is to enhance security for those traders willing to open their shops and ensure they are not disrupted by those participating in the strike.

Commander Mutafungwa stated that these security measures will continue until normalcy is restored. He warned that anyone attempting to disturb the traders who have chosen to open their shops will face consequences.

The strike by these traders not only affects casual laborers but also causes distress for vendors traveling from neighboring regions to purchase goods in Mwanza. Some are pleading with the government to resolve the differences with the striking traders.

Ms Theresia Kisusi, a resident of Sengerema in the region, lamented her futile trip to Mwanza early in the morning, arriving at noon only to find shops closed until 3:30 PM.

She expressed frustration, saying, “I was unaware of the strike; I wouldn’t have wasted my fare coming to Mwanza. I am now exhausted, and the government should intervene because they are hindering us. We cannot sell anything, and even those who open are not selling what we need.”

Meanwhile, the impact of the business strike in Mbeya City has started to directly affect citizens, who are lamenting over price hikes by opportunistic vendors, particularly as students prepare to return to school on July 1.

Some of the citizens expressed their distress over the scarcity of services, and when available, the exorbitant prices charged by vendors.

Ezra Mdamu, a resident of the city, pointed out that the prices of essential items, especially school supplies, have skyrocketed. He cited examples such as exercise books increasing from Tsh500 ($0.19) to Tsh700 ($0.27), and socks from Tsh1000 ($0.38) to Tsh2,000 ($0.77), regardless of the citizens’ income levels.

At Kariakoo the chairman of Kariakoo traders, Mr Martin Mbwana, has left it up to the traders to decide whether to close or open their shops after giving them feedback on what was discussed in the meeting between the leaders and the government.

He said that “the businesses are theirs and decisions to close or open should not be interfered with by anyone while the government’s job is to create a good environment to collect taxes.”

Mr Mbwana stated that does not have the authority to force shop owners to open their businesses and that continuing to keep their shops closed is detrimental to the health of their businesses, and the overall well-being of the country.

Some shops in Kariakoo on Wednesday began to reopen while others remained closed on the third day. Some businessmen expressed dissatisfaction with the discussions, stating that the explanations provided did not address their more pressing concerns.

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Publish date : 2024-06-27 06:52:59

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Author : africa-news

Publish date : 2024-06-27 07:10:34

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