The Immigration Department is struggling, with limited success, to stem a flood of illegal immigrants entering the country via its northern border. Most of these immigrants are from Ethiopia and war-ravaged Somalia.
The fact that hundreds of foreign nationals have been arrested in southern regions in recent years after traversing the country raises plenty of queries about the relevant authorities’ ability to prevent illegal aliens from entering Tanzania in the first place.
There is also the question of commitment, but it is not only the Immigration Department that should shoulder the blame. The Police Force, which is supposed to work in tandem with the department in preventing the entry of illegal immigrants, will be hard pressed to explain, for example, how a group comprising up to 30 individuals can travel by road all the way from, say, the border town of Namanga in the north to Mbeya in the south without raising suspicion.
Many of these immigrants pass through Tanzania on their way to southern Africa, but one can only guess how many decide to settle in the country – illegally, of course. There are cases where Tanzanians have been charged with harbouring illegal immigrants, but there seems to be no end to the problem.
With corruption levels being what they are within the Immigration Department and Police Force despite efforts being made to clean up the institutions, the possibility of the existence of a clandestine network facilitating the entry into Tanzania of illegal immigrants cannot be dismissed out of hand. This should be food for thought for Home Affairs ministry bigwigs in Dar es Salaam.