REGIONAL AFFAIRS

Kenya-Tanzanian relations need candid historical review

Covid-19 pandemic has only intensified the historical difference between the two states.

In Summary

• Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau and CAS Ababu Namwamba denied there were differences.

• Ababu maintained that the relationship between the two countries was intact.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is welcomed by his Tanzania counterpart John Pombe Magufuli during a private visit.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is welcomed by his Tanzania counterpart John Pombe Magufuli during a private visit.
Image: PSCU

This week, Tanzania admitted that there was is indeed a diplomatic tiff with Kenya but termed it as a “diplomatic principle”.

Tanzania government Spokesperson Hassan Abbasi on Tuesday told a local radio that, “Diplomacy is governed by a principle known as reciprocity, and Kenya has excluded Tanzania from countries whose flights can access its airspace.

“At this time, they (Kenyans) can stop coming. It is not a tiff but a diplomatic principle,” Abbasi said.

 

The spoke on the banning of Kenya Airways flights into  Tanzania.

Kenya Airways flights from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar were banned effective August 1 as retaliation after Tanzania was exempted from the list of states approved to fly into Kenya based on the risk of Covid-19 spread.

Asked if there was an disagreement with Tanzania, Kenya’s Transport CS James Macharia previously told reporters that they had agreed with the Tanzanian minister “on all issues and that advisory which was given by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority by the end of the day (August 1) will be reversed.”

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau and CAS Ababu Namwamba also denied there were differences.

Reacting to President Pombe Magufuli’s administration decision to suspend the flights on reciprocity grounds, Ababu maintained that the relationship between the two countries was intact.

“I want to make it clear that the relationship between Kenya and Tanzania is immutable, is indispensable, it is something that is permanent with us,” Ababu said at JKIA.

Kenya and Tanzania are joined at the hip, he said after flagging off flight KQ100 to London at Terminal 1 as Kenya resumed international flights.

 

But that was not the case because Tanzanian authorities response was telling.

“The Authority regrets to inform you that, on a reciprocal basis, the Tanzanian Government has decided to nullify its approval for the Kenya Airways (KQ) flights between Nairobi and Dar/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar effective August 1, 2020 until further notice. The approval was granted to KQ vide our letter,” Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority boss Hamza Johari said in a letter.

However, basing their reaction on reciprocity is to hide behind a post.  

It must be noted that the theory of international relations of reciprocity is considered an instrument for achieving the development of relations of mutual trust. It, in most cases, has played an important role in generating cooperation and conflict resolution between states. 

Ambassador Odeen Ishmail, a veteran Guyanese diplomat, further notes in his writings that reciprocity is considered “an appropriate form of behaviour that creates cooperation between sovereign states”.

This is not the case here and it is not the first time.

Covid-19 pandemic has only intensified the historical difference between the two states, and the respective bureaucrats should stop fix the problem instead of covering them in diplomatic language like Ababu did.

Trade between the two countries amounts to Sh61.5 billion annually. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows last year, Kenyan exports to Tanzania grew by 13 per cent to Sh33.9 billion. It should be protected.