The Citizen (Tanzania)
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Dar es Salaam. The struggling Uchumi supermarket chain is yet to pay the debt it owes its suppliers in Tanzania, The Citizen has established.

The heavily indebted Kenyan retailer ceased its operations in Tanzania late last year but it left behind debts that have not yet been paid, according to the suppliers’ chairman, Mr Joseph Mlay.

He told The Citizen last week that the supermarket still owed them a total of Sh6.1 billion.

“It is a year down the line but we have not been paid even a single cent out of the Sh6.1 billion debt that the supermarket owes us,” noted Mr Mlay.

He pointed an accusing finger at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional, East Africa and International Cooperation, for its failure to intervene in the matter.

Some of the over 300 suppliers have gone down to zero after Uchumi closed its Tanzania operations without paying them.

He cited an example of a woman who raised a capital of Sh172 million through the supply of ‘bamia’, saying she has now started afresh after losing everything over Uchumi Supermarket crisis.

Mr Mlaya added that other folks’ properties have been confiscated due to their failure to honour loans they borrowed from financial institutions.

“We are surrounded with a couple of problems due to our unsettled debtwe hardly, both get our daily bread and send our kids to school,” he stressed.

In June 2015, Uchumi fired its chief executive officer and chief financial officer at the time, for “misconduct and gross negligence”. In July 2015, the company hired a Nairobi-based consulting firm to probe employee theft at the retail chain. In August 2015, a new CEO was hired and in October 2015, the store chain closed down all its stores in Uganda and Tanzania, citing unprofitability. In the process, 900 former employees were laid off in both counties of whom 400 were in Uganda.