Foreigners banned from working in Zanzibar

Zanzibar - Lawmakers on Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would bar foreigners, including those from mainland Tanzania, from working there.

The bill, which was supported both sides of parliament, is aimed at boosting opportunities for Zanzibari youth, particularly in the tourism sector and would repeal less restrictive legislation that many blame for the island's high unemployment rate.

After receiving presidential assent in order to become law, it would bar non-islanders from "employment in Zanzibar unless no Zanzibari qualifies for the job", according to its text.

In addition, it would require foreigners to apply for permission to work on the island before they arrive and would limit their employment in Zanzibar to four years.

Violators, illegal foreign workers and their employers, would face a 500 000 Tanzanian shilling (about R3 000) fine and/or a three-month jail sentence, according to the draft.

When the bill was presented to parliament in March, the sponsor of the bill, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the minister of employment on Zanzibar and its sister islands of Pemba and Mafia, said the legislation was "progressive" and would be "a blessing for Zanzibaris".

Legislators have long complained that youths from outside Zanzibar - mainly Ugandans, Kenyans and mainland Tanzanians - are taking many tourism-related jobs on the island leaving locals unemployed.

Apart from the tourism industry, non-islanders also fill many jobs in the banking sector on the island, according to the lawmakers. - Sapa-AFP

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