Tanzania’s government has deployed the military to deal with yet another economic issue, this time working with the central bank to investigate suspected money laundering in the northern city of Arusha.
The central bank issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had conducted a surprise inspection of foreign exchange bureaus in a crackdown on black market currency trading and money laundering.
“There has been an increase in illegal foreign exchange bureaus and money laundering activities that have been conducted through foreign exchange bureaus,” central bank Governor Forens Luoga said.
The military should only be deployed in special emergencies, such as defence of the constitution and the country’s borders.
The bank said it had suspended issuance of new licenses for foreign exchange bureaus over the past three months to conduct thorough inspections of existing foreign exchange retail bureaus. Tanzania has 110 licensed foreign currency bureaus.
“All those found to be operating illegally will have their licences revoked,” said the governor.
Arusha city is popular with tourists, providing a gateway to the Seregenti national park and Africa’s highest peak Mt Kilimanjaro.
It is also a popular hub for conferences and hosts the headquarters of the regional body, East African Community.
Why the army?
The government spokesperson earlier quoted governor Florens Luoga saying the raids had been conducted together with the military because police were busy guarding national exams.
The National Examination Council of Tanzania is currently conducting examinations for high school students (form four), that will last until November 23.
President John Magufuli recently deployed the army to deal with a cashew nut crisis, with instructions to collect and store the crops and ensure farmers are paid a fair price.
The president further elaborated that the army was being deployed to defend the nation in its economic war.
The army is also working with the Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, the firm contracted to construct the standard gauge railway.
The opposition in the country is not as enthusiastic about the deployment of the military on economic assignments.
“The military should only be deployed in special emergencies, such as defence of the constitution and the country’s borders,” Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, said on Twitter.