Haroun Ali Suleiman

The Zanzibar Minister for Labour, Economical empowerment, and Cooperatives, Mr Haroun Ali Suleiman

In a quest to fight poverty on the islands, the Zanzibar Minister for Labour, Economical empowerment, and Cooperatives, Mr Haroun Ali Suleiman, announced on Friday that his ministry is targeting to create about 3,500 jobs for youths through revival of defunct cooperatives and an empowerment fund by April this year.

“Poverty associated with a lack of employment remains a big challenge, but we are determined to minimize unemployment which stands at 17.1 per cent among youths,” Suleiman said when presenting a July/December 2011 evaluation report to reporters.
He said that the launch of an empowerment Fund to incorporate the current ‘Self-reliance Fund,’ and ‘President Jakaya Kikwete and Former President Amani Karume (or JK & AK) revolving fund would be an opportunity for Zanzibaris to get loans free of interest.

Haroun said that the new ‘empowerment fund would be managed by the ministry instead of the Bank, “for easy access, monitoring, and paying back of the funds”. The minister also said that his ministry was formalizing in-house work by signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Middle East countries: Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Ras-el- Khaimah “so that Zanzibaris employed as domestic workers are known and their rights are protected.”

“Some people are avoiding going for loans because interest rates are prohibited in Islam, therefore we have to relax our loaning regulations so that many Zanzibaris mainly youths and women have the funds to run business,” the minister said.  However, the minister informed reporters that despite the unemployment challenge, most of the ministry’s objectives are being met, which include giving out JK & AK revolving loans to 742 people, and enforcement of labour laws.

“Only half or less out of the 1.5bn/- lent to people through JK & AK funds has been collected from borrowers. Low turn-up to refund the money is attributed to misconception, and negligence,” he said.  Speaking about enforcement of labour laws, the minister revealed that his ministry has revoked working permits from five foreigners with managerial positions, after being implicated of abusing employees.

He declined to give their nationalities, but said the convicts were working in Neptune, La-Gema, Africa-House, Dolphin, and Dream of Zanzibar tourist hotels on Unguja Island.

By ISSA YUSSUF, Tanzania Daily News

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