Kenyan president sends message to Tanzanian counterpart over xenophobic remarks

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday wrote to his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli, expressing his disappointment over recent xenophobic remarks by the country’s politician.

Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa received the message on behalf of President Magufuli who is on a short vacation in his native village of Chato in the country’s northwest region of Geita.

Last week, Charles Njagua Kanyi, a Kenyan Member of Parliament (MP), made xenophobic utterances against foreigners, including Tanzanians, operating businesses in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. 

Speaking shortly after he had received the message, Majaliwa said Tanzanians were pleased by various measures taken by the Kenyan government following the Kenyan politician’s racist remarks.

Majaliwa said in a statement issued by his office in the business capital Dar es Salaam that Tanzanians and Kenyans have been friends since time immemorial and when conflicts arose between them the two governments resolved them amicably.

The premier appealed to leaders and peoples from the East African Community (EAC) partner states of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan to avoid making statements that were likely to ignite misunderstandings amongst them.

“Trade and business in the EAC partner states will be undertaken smoothly if there was peace and tranquility in the region,” Majaliwa said in the statement.

Following the xenophobic remarks, Tanzanian authorities summoned Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania Kazungu to explain the MP’s remarks in which he threatened to attack foreign traders operating in the capital Nairobi.

In a clip that went viral on social media, Njagua was seen talking about traders from Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan and China, accusing them of dominating markets in Nairobi and harassing local traders.

After the comments went viral, Speaker of Tanzanian Parliament Job Ndugai ordered his government to issue a statement on the safety of Tanzanians living and working in Kenya.  The politician was arrested by Kenyan police and he was taken in custody for questioning. 

Last week, the East African Business Council (EABC) based in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha condemned the xenophobic comments made by the Kenyan politician.

Peter Mathuki, the EABC Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement that the xenophobic comments were unfortunate and unwarranted as they negated the spirit and gains of the East African Community (EAC) regional integration. –Xinhua  

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