But, while the President’s promise targeted the 1,500 struggling entrepreneurs in Mwanza, we firmly believe that thousands of petty traders in the country -- be they in Mwanza, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Dodoma or Kigoma -- share similar problems that need lasting solutions.
And, as it could not be possible for all vendors to convene at CCM Kirumba stadium to register their respective complaints to the President, the Mwanza-based Machingas should, albeit unofficially, represent all machingas countrywide who essentially share same problems.
That is why we would like to remind the authorities to amplify President Kikwete’s promise from Mwanza to other parts of the country. Petty business, though subject to a myriad of problems, is undeniably a big economic undertaking , employing millions of youths.
Lack of well established trading areas, confiscation of goods and even physical assaults by greedy and ruthless individuals in the name of city or council askaris are some but few of the problems that those in informal business encounter. However, machingas too are problematic. They sometimes opt, intentionally or unknowingly, to disregard the law, taking their interest over others.
What is the explanation, for instance, for machingas’ common tendency of displaying their goods on road pavements, inconveniencing pedestrians, in the process? Could it be that machingas believe the pavements are the official business areas?
An effort to address machines’ problems therefore has to focus on awareness campaign to enlighten them on the rules and regulations that govern business, with the view of reaching a win-win agreement between machingas on one side and the government that represent the public on the other side. And, taxation too is an issue that must be tackled once and for all.
For years, machingas, although minting millions of money, have hardly paid taxes, gradually offering conducive avenue for tax evasion by dishonesty merchants in the country as most of the vendors have turned into the sale agents of the wholesalers from whom they get the products on credit and pay after selling, tax free.
As street vendors sell their products relatively cheaper than the formal businesses because of low operational costs -- no tax, no electricity, no rental on business premises -- many people prefer buying from them, denying the government substantial amount of its rightful taxes.
We believe that the lasting solution to the street vendors’ problems will finally be reached nationwide through a process that involves the machingas themselves. For, some of the machingas’ problems emanate from imposing decisions on them as if they cannot think for their own welfare.