A SPECIAL operation to flush out illegal immigrants popularly known as 'Operation Kimbunga' has wiped out a 'Burundi empire' which saw that country's currency and curriculum being used at Nyamugali village, Kasulu District in Kigoma Region.
Speaking exclusively to the 'Sunday News' sister paper, 'HabariLeo Jumapili,' the Kigoma Regional Commissioner Lt. Col (rtd) Issa Machibya said that apart from using the Burundi currency as legal tender in the country and using a French curriculum, the illegal immigrants flew the Burundi flag in different parts of the village.
"At the moment, all these immigrants have fled their homes, it is difficult to believe that these houses belong to illegal immigrants because they built and lived in the houses without any fear in a country that isn't their own," he explained.
Mr Machibya said that he considered it an insult to the hosts for foreigners living in a country without respect to that country's currency, instead use their own, adding that he was thankful they were able to drive the aliens away and pledged to continue with the operation until peace prevailed in the country.
It is estimated that the number of illegal immigrants who were living in the village, but have now fled from the long arm of the government during the operation, was more than 600.
Kigoma Region alone has caught 4,365 illegal immigrants from Burundi in the first phase of the operation which has spread throughout the country, prompting Mr Machibya to urge Kigoma residents to actively help in the fight against illegal immigrants especially in this second phase and others that will follow.
"The problem that this operation faces is secrecy. Many people have failed to help and have accepted aliens as fellow Tanzanians when they are not...Tanzanians should know that these are not people with good intentions, if their intentions were good, they would have followed the immigration procedures," he said.
The Head of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Kasulu District, Mr Frederick Nisajile congratulated the government and other authorities for the good job it was doing but cautioned against different avenues that bring rise to illegal immigrants.
Mr Nisajile who has worked with refugees for the past two decades, said that the number of immigrants and refugees in the country was cause for concern, saying that a lot needed to be done to ensure the country remained safe.
'Operation Kimbunga' which is headed by Brigadier General Mathew Sukambi started on September 6, this year, after the two week deadline that was issued by President Jakaya Kikwete, urging immigrants living in the country without proper immigration status to leave voluntarily or to apply for legal status.