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Legislators condemn biased work permit exemptions

THE Zanzibar House of Representatives has condemned indiscriminate work permit exemptions applied to some workers, saying the discharges reduce government revenues and rob citizens of their jobs.

The House’s Women Development, Information and Tourism Committee demanded swift measures by the government to address the appalling trend.

The Committee Chairperson Mwantatu Mbarak Khamis, presenting the committee report summary in the house here, expressed shock over permit exemptions to some people, noting that during the first half of 2019/20 fiscal year alone Zanzibar issued 925 work permits, with 347 of them exempted.

While the Labour, Empowerment, Elderly, Youth, Women and Children Minister exempted 257 permits, the country’s investment promotion arm—Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency— granted exemptions to 90 permits, she said.

Ms Mbarak asked the labour ministry and its finance counterpart to meet and address the issue, arguing that arbitrary granting of work permit exemptions was denying the government its due revenues and robbing citizens of their rightful jobs.

The committee also raised concern over weak inspection of work places, with only 195 institutions inspected during the first half of 2019/2020 out of the ministry’s pledge to inspect 600 institutions in the entire year.

“We firmly believe that this slow pace of inspecting work places creates loopholes for some employers to continue infringing labour laws,” said Ms Mbarak, citing Nungwi-based Lagema Hotel in North Unguja region and Aiyana Hotel in North Pemba, which the committee visited and talked to management and employees.

At all the hotels, the committee chairlady told the house, that workers were found with many challenges, especially those related to violation of their labour rights.

Ms Mbarak said for the July-December 2019 period, Zanzibar’s Disputes Handling Unit (DHU) registered 120 labour quarrels, with most of the disagreements emanating from undue employment termination and manipulative salaries.

The committee also analyzed the government efforts to empower wananchi in their strives against abject poverty, with Ms Mbarak informing the house that during the period under review, the citizen empowerment fund issued 452m/- through 461 loans.

The fund also trained 295 entrepreneurs in both Unguja and Pemba, the chairperson told the house. Meanwhile, genderbased violence cases are on the rise in Zanzibar, with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) receiving 462 case files on the crimes during the July-December, 2019 period, Ms Mbarak said.

She advised the government and all wananchi to work closely and devise effective strategies to prevent the violence instead of waiting until they happen and start deal with the perpetrators.

“All executives like the police, medics, judiciary and DPP office whose responsibilities relate to GBV should enhance their professional competence and integrity in execution of their duties,” the committee chairlady argued.

THE government has issued a six-month ultimatum to ...


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