It is not in doubt that when it comes to East Africa, Kenya is the undisputed big boy of the region. In fact, Kenya has overtaken Angola as the third-largest economy in Sub-Sahara Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Kenya now lies behind Nigeria (1) and South Africa (2).
With a projected gross domestic product (GDP) – the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a country – of Sh9.9 trillion in 2019, Kenya’s economy is bigger than that of all the countries in the East and Central Africa.
Moreover, IMF expects Kenya to remain at the pole position in the next four years, with the country’s GDP touching Sh15.8 trillion by 2024.
This probably explains Tanzania’s hostile attitude towards Kenya in recent times.
Since Pombe Magufuli assumed the Presidency in Tanzania, all he has shown towards Kenya can only be summed up in one word-jealousy.
Magufuli is simply jealous of Kenya’s superior socio-economic advancements, something he can only bring to Tanzania in his wildest dreams.
While Kenya has always remained that accommodative neighbor who welcomes ‘Ndugu zetu WaTanzania ‘ with open arms, Tanzania under Magufuli has been behaving like a disgruntled last-born who thinks he’s entitled to the same things enjoyed by his older siblings despite the age gap.
Magufuli started by enforcing unfair trade practices towards Kenyan companies. He banned some services offered by Kenyan firms and introduced trade barriers that favored local competitors while frustrating the latter. Almost all Kenyan firms operating in Tanzania seem to be complaining of ”economic policy uncertainty” where no one is ever sure of what will happen the next minute.
This is against the spirit of the EAC where Tanzania (partner State) is required to accord equal treatment to products from Kenya.
In 2017, Tanzania locked 20 Kenyan firms from its market. At that time, the two countries were engaged in bitter wars as the former defied EAC agreement on free movement of labour.
Besides banning importation of unprocessed foods, milk products, and cigarettes,the dictatorial Magufuli regime asked all Kenyan professionals to pay Sh5,000 for business visas to work there, for tasks that were meant to last shorter times than the EAC agreement states.
The epitome of this madness was witnessed in 2018 when Tanzanian authorities blatantly burned 5,000 day-old chicks from Kenya on flimsy grounds. The ‘Pombe ‘ in Magufuli cannot simply fathom the fact that Kenya is to the EAC what Germany is to the EU-the export powerhouse.
It was only last month that we saw Magufuli calling on Tanzanian farmers to sell their produce to Kenyans at exorbitant prices. According to him,”Wakenya wako na pesa. Tuwagonge kabisa”
In terms of East African integration, the process has always been held back by Tanzania’s rather underwhelming excuses to delay the process, which are easily reflective of the country’s jealousy that Kenya will be the dominant partner if an EAC economic block is to fully take shape.
When Kenya recently announced resumption of International flights after a lull occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, only flights from “safe countries” would first be allowed into the country. Clearly Tanzania, with its mismanaged Covid-19 situation doesn’t belong to this list.Infact no serious country at the moment can allow Tanzanian flights into their skies at the moment.
It therefore didn’t come as a shocker that Tanzania, in a desperate attempt to force a tug-of-war situation, banned Kenya Airways flights into the poverty-stricken nation. The country’s Foreign Ministry termed the petty move as ‘reciprocation’.
What is in the open gallery is that Kenyan leader,President Kenyatta, being the gentleman that he is, will treat the Tanzanians with the contempt they deserve. If the mighty USA was not on the ‘safe countries’ flight list, sembuse Tanzania?
The latest petty move just confirms that under the repressive Magufuli regime,Tanzania will remain the nondescripts they are, what the Waswahili call ‘Kamati ya Roho Chafu’