The Citizen (Tanzania)
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President John Magufuli’s two-day state visit to Kenya that ends today was undoubtedly one of the most awaited events in the region. Dr Magufuli had not been to the neighbouring country since he was sworn in as Tanzania’s fifth President in November 2015.

Even though it wasn’t his first visit as President to another East Africa nationhe had been to Rwanda in early April and Uganda in early MayDr Magufuli’s arrival in Nairobi was undoubtedly very significant.

In Kenya, there was a sigh of relief, for the naysayers had read bad blood in his apparent « lack of interest » towards the northern neighbour.

And for Tanzania, the visit will go a long way to reinforce the fact that Dar and Nairobi value each other and that their partnership is for mutual development.

The two countries comprise the largest economies in the region and as the founding partners of the EAC, their every move is significant to the welfare of the bloc.

It is, therefore, not surprising that as elder EAC siblings, certain things haven’t gone well as the two countries engaged in a race to strengthen their separate economies and positions of influence in the international community.

While competition isn’t bad, it shouldn’t breed rivalry that could make it difficult for East Africans to live harmoniously, trade and integrate into one big nation headed for total unification.

Better relations

It means, the significance of better relations between Tanzania and Kenya cannot be overemphasised. President Magufuli restated them yesterday during a joint press conference with his host, President Uhuru Kenyatta. The people of the two countries, he said, are better off together than otherwise.

Tanzania, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, has offered Kenyan companies a ready market. Trade between the countries more than tripled from Sh652.9 billion in 2010 to Sh2.044 trillion early this year. There are currently 529 Kenyan companies operating in Tanzania with investments totalling $1.7 billion and providing at least 56,260 jobs.

Kenya is without doubt Tanzania’s leading trading partner in Africa. President Magufuli’s visit should therefore be seen in the light of efforts to cement Tanzania’s relations with Kenya and let all and sundry know that together, the two countries will prosper.

We therefore expect the two leaders to be champions of their respective county’s endeavours to build a better united bloc and more prosperous citizens of East Africa. They owe this, at least, to those who came before them.

We are encouraged that yesterday’s meeting undertook to reinvigorate the dormant Joint Commission between the two countries. As a tool through which discussions are held to drive the bilateral relations agenda, it was surprising to learn that the commission last held a meeting four years ago! We give the thumbs up to President Magufuli’s order that an urgent meeting be held to set it in motion.

In the end, it is our hope that this visit will serve as a lesson to both sides to learn from each other how their countries can tackle such ills as graft, pilferage of public funds and poor governance that put the interests of individuals before those of the people who elected them to power.

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