Dar targets organised begging in new crackdown

18Apr 2016
Lucas Lukumbo
The Guardian
Dar targets organised begging in new crackdown

DAR ES SALAAM authorities will today begin a city-wide crackdown against beggars amid reports that children are being taken out of school to beg on the streets of the nation's commercial capital.

Beggars in DaresSalaam...asked to vacate the streets due to security concerns.

According to regional commissioner Paul Makonda, the operation to kick the beggars out will involve a concentrated police round-up campaign especially targeting destitute adults who use their children to do the begging.

How successful the latest Makonda-led operation will be remains to be seen after similar past exercises to get rid of the beggars problem in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres in the country appear to have failed.

There has been a significant increase in the number of child beggars in the city, with reports suggesting many of them were deliberately forced to drop out of schools in upcountry regions and brought to Dar es Salaam to beg at street corners and junctions.

Authorities estimate that at least 80 per cent of beggars in Dar es Salaam have come from upcountry regions, and now there are plans for homeless children found on the streets to be sent to designated orphanages.

A month-long survey by The Guardian confirmed the presence of dozens of school-age children still roaming the city streets aimlessly despite President John Magufuli's newly-introduced free education policy.

One family of beggars said it earns up to 40,000/- a day thanks to its team of child beggars.

But despite the reports of their being forced out of school, some of the minors appeared to suggest they actually preferred the 'easy life' of begging.

When asked whether they would happily agree to be sent to school and do away with begging, a group of street child beggars found on a Dar es Salaam street corner responded in emphatic chorus: “Hapana, Hapana (No way, no way)”.

The eldest of them, Everest Dimuya (12), when asked individually why he would not accept free schooling, retorted: “My parents are (both) begging in Dar es Salaam. With whom will I stay with if I go back home to Dodoma?”

A female member of the group, six-year old Mwajuma Fao from Kigwe, Dodoma, said her mother (who was also in the group) had told her “people have plenty of money to offer on the streets (of Dar es Salaam).”

This partly explains why there are so many children prowling the streets of Dar es Salaam.

One elderly beggar, Mzee Maige Gigi (70), has a daughter (40-year old Ester Petro) and three grandchildren helping him to solicit alms around the Buguruni market area in the city.

Hailing from Mwamagunguli village in Shinyanya, Gigi said he regularly comes to Dar es Salaam to beg when schools close for holidays.

He said he has been in the city on his latest sojourn since towards the end of last year, but is still raising money for the trip back home after schools reopened.

Grandchildren Kulwa, Exavel and Issa – whose surnames he can’t remember – are apparently his aides in the crusade to beef up the family coffers through begging. On a good day they can collect as much as 40,000/- in alms.

“As I speak, my grandchildren are missing school, but there’s nothing I can do. I have to have money for food and school expenses for the three kids,” Gigi said.

He explained that he has to look after his grandchildren himself because their father died a long time ago.

Chipola Mlalo (51) and her son Chikalu (5) from Kimendeli, Bahi district have just arrived in the city and said torrential rains pounding their Dodoma home region is the reason they are here.

“Our house and belongings have been swept away by the rains. They only way we can raise money to buy a plot and new household items is by coming to Dar es Salaam,” Mlalo said.
She said her husband died a long time ago and she has nobody else to depend on.

According to a study published recently by the International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences (IJPSS), the begging problem in Tanzania has a lot to do with climate change, poverty, and the failure of social institutions to address social disorder.

The study is titled ‘Demographic Dimensions and their Implications on the Incidence of Street Begging in Urban Areas of Central Tanzania: The Case of Dodoma and Singida Municipalities’.

It shows that most of the sampled beggars (72.3 per cent) feel very bad towards their begging life and regard begging activity as an immoral conduct.

Likewise, 60 per cent of beggars from Dodoma and 34 per cent from Singida argued that it is very bad to get engaged in begging activities.

On the other hand, 35.4 per cent of the sampled beggars argued that begging life is bad, with 52 per cent from Singida and 25 per cent from Dodoma agreeing on this.

Again, 14.6 per cent of the sampled beggars (15 percent from Dodoma and 14 per cent from Singida) asserted that begging life is normal.