Tanzanian President John Magufuli shows his softer side and grabs a wicker basket and goes shopping to show Tanzania does not need plastics

Magufuli drops all presidential privileges and goes shopping in a wicker basket.
  • President Magufuli warmed the hearts of Tanzanians after he made a surprise visit to a fish market while carrying a wicker basket.
  • In Tanzania, it is unusual for a man to carry a shopping basket, especially someone of the president's status.
  • Tanzania now joins more than 30 African countries who have in recent years announced a ban on single-use plastic.

On Monday, Tanzanian President John Magufuli showed his ‘human side’ by doing what is otherwise a very ordinary task millions of Tanzanians do on daily occasion.

President Magufuli warmed the hearts of Tanzanians after he made a surprise visit to a fish market while carrying a wicker basket in a move to support a new plastic bag ban that his government recently introduced.

In Tanzania, it is unusual for a man to carry a shopping basket, especially someone of the president's status.

On his trip to the fish market in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, Mr Magufuli, who is nicknamed "The Bulldozer" because of no-nonsense attitude, said he wanted to prove that shoppers in Tanzania no longer needed to use plastic bags.

"In a few years time the country will be safe from the effects of plastic bags," the president said.

He added that customers should not pressure fishmongers to hand over plastic bags.

His defiance of convention is likely to give more weight to the ban that came into effect on Saturday.

After the ban came into effect, those found with plastic bags now face fines of up to $87 (£68) or up to seven days in jail, local media reports.

For anyone caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags, the fine could be $430,000 or up to two years in prison.

Plastic pollution has been proven to have a huge negative effect on marine life and apart from that plastic bags also cause flooding in cities by blocking drains.

When plastic debris breaks down from wear and tear, it does not decompose the way other products like wood do - but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming "microplastic".

These tiny plastic fragments often end up in fish and can then be passed on to humans.

Large volumes of plastic waste wash up on beaches, where they can be eaten by sea birds and other animals and kill them.

Tanzania now joins more than 30 African countries who have in recent years announced a ban on single-use plastic.

Travellers arriving in Tanzania - a tourist hotspot - are now being asked to surrender plastic bags at the airport.

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