FARMING communities in Kigoma Region are afraid of the looming danger of food scarcity in the near future and subsequent sky-rocketing market prices, a situation that has allegedly arisen from the 'Operation Kimbunga' (arrest and repatriation of illegal immigrants) campaign that has driven out hundreds of people who provided cost effective labour.
Various sources in Kibondo and Kasulu districts have observed the rapid decline in the number of farm workers.
In a telephone interview with the 'Sunday News,' Pastor George Kachilla of the Anglican Church in Kibondo District at Nengo village said that absence of these labourers could have a serious impact on the next harvest, as a majority of households had cultivated very little compared to previous seasons when the casual labourers were available for work.
"We support government for identifying and repatriating illegal immigrants but nearly 96 per cent of the local farmers will harvest much less this season and might not even be able to sustain their families up to the next harvest," Pastor Kachilla observed.
The cleric said he had cultivated three acres under the assistance of migrants who have proven to be hard workers and demand minimal wages of 40,000/- per acre as opposed to Tanzanians who demand for 95,000/- per acre. He requested local governments to speed up the process of sorting out separations in families, as some families had one of the parents sent back home.
The decision is creating a burden to family members left behind and to the church as well. Jailos Kaunga (46), a resident of Kibondo was of the opinion that since the East African Community (EAC) was coming closer gradually, it would have been sensible to have the repatriation exercise going hand-in-hand with the 'naturalisation' process to pave way for the acquisition of citizenship for immigrants who prove to be good people. "Intermarriages brought couples of different nationalities together.
Unexpected separation triggers off waves of apprehension, discomfort and hardships. We have seen a number of traumatised children. It is time proper procedures are followed for the smooth implementation of the exercise," Kaunga suggested.
Recalling the speech made by the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda when closing the previous session of Parliament, said that poverty has declined by two per cent, Victor Kyambile, a resident of Nengo village feared that many families in the area will experience hardships and poverty might 'sweep away' vulnerable families.
In a related development, John Mathew from Kasulu requested government to exercise restraint and patience while addressing the issue of citizenship, as chances are high that innocent people could fall victims of circumstances.