Dar es Salaam/Mwanza. President John Magufuli yesterday directed authorities not to evict hawkers and small-scale miners before finding alternative sites for them.
The President specifically called for a stop to the eviction of hawkers from Mwanza streets and artisanal miners from their mining areas in Shinyanga Region.
He said those who were not ready to heed the directive should step aside. This is not the first time President Magufuli has told authorities in Mwanza to stop “harassing” hawkers. He first issued the directive in August when he addressed a public rally in Mwanza.
Hawkers were kicked off the streets in Mwanza city centre on Sunday following an order by city director Kilomoni Kibamba, while Energy and Minerals deputy minister Medard Kalemani ordered the eviction of small-scale miners in Nyaligongo Village, Shinyanga Region.
However, President Magufuli, speaking in the presence of Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Deputy Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) Suleiman Jaffo, overturned the decisions.
“There has of late been a tendency among regional and district commissioners as well as municipal and district directors to evict hawkers without allocating them alternative areas from where they can conduct business,” he said at State House.
“I don’t like to see hawkers selling their merchandise on pavements, but there is no law in the country which prohibits them from operating in the centre of cities and towns.”
The President warned that local governments and other authorities risked creating classes by evicting hawkers without giving them alternative sites.
He said traders who were removed from Mwanza city centre on Sunday should be allowed to return until the city council finds alternative areas for them.
“I have said this before and I’m saying it for the last time...traders shouldn’t be evicted from the streets before they are allocated alternative sites,” Dr Magufuli said.
He also overturned the decision to kick out small-scale miners in Shinyanga, saying they should be allowed to remain in the area until further notice.
“We can’t dislodge 5,000 small-scale miners for the sake of just one investor…if possible, the investor’s licence should be revoked,” the Head of State directed.
However, President Magufuli warned hawkers and small-scale miners not to violate relevant rules and regulations following his directive.
Meanwhile, regional leaders in Mwanza began to implement President Magufuli’s directive.
“We have to comply with the President’s order. There are no if’s or but’s,” said Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella.
He told The Citizen by telephone that the regional administration would start to allocate alternative trading areas in Nyamagana and Ilemela municipalities, adding that traders’ representatives would be fully involved in the exercise.
Nyamagana District Commissioner Mary Tesha, who had been supervising the eviction of traders in the area since Saturday, confirmed that the operation had been suspended with immediate effect.
“We have already stopped evicting hawkers as directed by His Excellency the President,” she told The Citizen.
Ilemela District Commissioner Leonard Masale said no trader had been evicted in the area because alternative areas were still being sought.
“We in Ilemela District had not begun moving traders. We are still looking for suitable alternative sites.”
The directive was greeted with joy among traders, who immediately began swarming back onto the streets after news of Dr Magufuli’s intervention filtered through.
“We’re back! We’re back! Stay in power for the next 100 years!” a trader shouted as he laid out his merchandise at Makoroboi market.
A leader of a local hawkers’ association, Mr Matondo Masanja, welcomed Dr Magufuli’s directive, saying traders were not involved in the decision to “clean up” the streets.
“The regional leaders never involved us in their decision to evict traders. Let this be a lesson to our leaders that decisions that touch on people’s livelihoods should not be made by one or two people,” he said.
The Nyamagana and Ilemela district commissioners on November 23 gave hawkers until December 2 to vacate unauthorised areas in the city centre. City authorities began to forcibly remove traders last weekend, leading to ugly scenes of violence in which a number of people were injured.
The operation was initially scheduled for August 20, this year, but was suspended following Dr Magufuli’s directive.