Kagame’s visit set to boost Tanzania-Rwanda relations

02Jul 2016
The Guardian
Kagame’s visit set to boost Tanzania-Rwanda relations

AS Tanzania yesterday hosted neighbouring Rwandan President Paul Kagame, folks wore broad smiles as they recalled that recent soured relations between the two East African Community member countries had been had been mended.

A visit by President John Magufuli to Rwanda early this year and a reciprocal visit by President Kagame to Tanzania yesterday amounts to forgetting the recent past and forging ahead.

Fast forward: Relations between Tanzania and Rwanda flawed for two years before November 2015 when former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete called on countries taking part in the Great Lakes peace talks to open discussions with all the rebel groups involved, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), an anti-Rwandan government militia.

The remarks by Kikwete irritated the authorities in Kigali and the subsequent soured relations. The rest is history.

But a new diplomatic relations chapter between the two countries was opened after President Magufuli took over from Kikwete in November 2015.

In April 2016, leaders of the two countries jointly launched the Rusumo One-Stop Border Post and International Bridge joining the two countries at Rusumo border, which links Rwanda to Tanzania.

The launch saw renewed relations between the two countries as the Rusumo One-Stop Border Post was described as a key installation designed to ease trade between the two neighbours under the auspices of the Central Corridor.

“Peace is the foundation of the kind of cooperation that has potential to transform our two nations,” President Kagame had said adding that they wanted trade to increase because that will be for the benefit of both the people of Rwanda and Tanzania.

On the other hand, President Magufuli said the inauguration of the bridge was historic and a pact of brotherhood between the two countries.

“Africa has been blessed with resources, we have all we need to develop and transform our lives. Together we are stronger as East Africa,” he said.

President Kagame also invited President Magufuli to his home in the eastern province and gifted him five cows as a sign of renewed relations between the two countries.

During the World Economic Forum on Africa held in May in the Rwandan capital Kigali, President Kagame said Tanzania and Rwanda would implement major development undertakings following the recent improved relations between the two countries.

"Our two countries will jointly undertake investments in infrastructure such as the recently inaugurated Rusumo Bridge over Kagera River," he told The Guardian in reply to a question on relations between the two countries.

Recently, the two countries held a joint trade forum further cementing their relations.

Among others, the forum addressed trade obstacles faced by traders on both sides of the border, especially congestion and theft of Rwandan goods at Tanzanian ports.

The visit by President Kagame yesterday offered Tanzanians a new glimmer of hope that the road towards excellent relations between the two countries was on course.

Our leaders have played their part, and what remains is for the peoples in both countries to start utilizing this golden opportunity in moving forward.

Citizens in both countries should start rethinking the way they do things and change their mindsets towards delivery of economic growth and social development for their betterment.

Tanzania and Rwanda should forget the two years of soured relations and transform towards prosperous economies.

To borrow the words of President Kagame: “Time for leap-frogging is over.”

At the end of President Kagame’s visit we hope that deals on various areas of cooperation will be reached and implemented in the near future.
Karibu sana President Kagame and your entourage.