Magufuli, Kenyatta reaffirm East African identity, unity

06Jul 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Magufuli, Kenyatta reaffirm East African identity, unity

PRESIDENT John Magufuli and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday declared that the two countries are not just neighbours but friendly nations inhabited by one people, urging citizens to work hard and bring about development.

President Dr John Pombe Magufuli and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta wave to Chato residents and guests shortly after President Kenyatta arrived at Chato Airport in Geita Region yesterday. Photo: State House

Speaking at a rally in President Magufuli’s home village of Mlimani in Chato district, Geita region, the leaders refuted suggestions that hostility towards each other prevails, underlining lasting friendships on the basis of unifying factors, especially kindred ethnic groups, language, trade and investment.

With the border stretching all the way from Lake from Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro to Tanga on the ocean board, and kindred communities living in both countries, the leaders were persuaded that nothing can cause enmity between Kenya and Tanzania.

“Kenyans are free to live and invest in Tanzania and Tanzanians are also free to do the same in Kenya,” the host president emphasized.

President Kenyatta cautioned people of the two countries to desist from endless politicking as it is the biggest enemy of development. For the countries to make progress among nations, after every general election people should embark on hard work.

“Let’s reduce politics, let’s concentrate on development after elections. Politics from dusk to dawn every year cannot translate into development. It is indeed countering development,” he told the gathering.

President Magufuli stressed the need to strengthen unity through the East African Community and other regional blocs but insisted that for development to be realised, people must work hard.

“Let’s unite but work hard. It is only hard working people who can build a nation,” he said.

And the stakes are too high for the countries to allow anything to tarnish the pertaining friendship, he further noted, citing last year’s trade levels between the two countries as valued at 1.945trn/- out of which 482.45bn/- was the value of goods that Tanzania sold.

He also quoted the Kenya Tourist Board’s 2018 report which showed that more than 200,000 Tanzanians visited Kanya in that year, stating further that currently, there are 504 Kenyan businesses in the country employing more than 50,000 local people, with scores of Tanzanian businesses in Kenya also employing many people in the neighboring country.

He said they were also friendly at a personal level, such that their speeches were off the cuff, delivered in a jovial way with humour lined up here and there.

“We were friends since we were ministers. I once came to Kenya and paid a visit to your mother Mama Ngina who offered me a very nice tea,” President Magufuli said as Kenyatta nodded.

President Kenyatta’s private visit comes less than a fortnight after Starehe MP and musician made inflammatory comments towards Tanzanians living and doing business in Nairobi.

Charles Njagua Kanyi alias Jaguar, speaking at a marketplace political rally threatened to expel foreign nationals doing business in Kenya, and proceed to attack them if they did not heed the directive.

In the clip widely shared in East Africa and beyond, Jaguar was recorded at Gikombaa market which is popular for second-hand clothes, saying: "When you look at our market, Tanzanians and Ugandans have taken our businesses. Enough is enough. If we will give them 24 hours and they will not leave, we will beat them and we are not scared of anyone."

The MP from the ruling Jubilee Party then repeats the phrase "enough is enough" as people applaud.

On Tuesday, President Kenyatta wrote to President Magufuli, underlining how he was annoyed by the recent outburst, saying in his letter that the sentiments did not reflect the position of the Kenyan government.

The musician-turned-politician was arrested and is facing incitement charges in Nairobi.