Suluhu faults decision by Magufuli’s gov’t to burn thousands of chicks imported from Kenya

Saturday, November 26th, 2022 11:25 | By
President Samia Suluhu signs a condolence book at the Karimjee grounds in Dar es Salaam on March 19, 2021 following the death of her predecessor Dr John Magufuli. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has addressed the decision by late President John Magufuli's government to burn chicks imported from Kenya which sparked a trade row between the two countries.

The government of late President John Magufuli set on fire 6,400 live chicks imported from Kenya in November 2017 on grounds that they were smuggled into Tanzania.

At that time, the Tanzanian Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries said the burning of live chicks was made to prevent the spread of bird flu.

Kenya complained that no case of bird flu had been reported within its borders while other Tanzanian officials claimed the importation of the chicks was not supported by paperwork.

In February 2018, the Magufuli-led government once again burnt 5,000 day-old chicks imported from Kenya by three local businessmen, a move that soured trade relations between the two countries.

The chicks were seized by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) alongside 416 trays of eggs at the Namanga border in Longido District, Arusha Region, Tanzanian.

It was wrong

Five years after the torching, the incumbent Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said the government's decision to burn chicken from Kenya nearly soiled the historical relations between the two trading partners.

“It was not a good way to handle such imports. Even chickens have the right to live,” Suluhu said when she addressed lawyers from the region.

Suluhu noted that trade volumes between Tanzania and Kenya soared during her tenure to over $1 billion worth of goods by last year after her visit to Nairobi.

“It was a major breakthrough after I visited Nairobi where we made business commitments with former President Uhuru Kenyatta,” she said.

She revealed that out of the 64 persistent non-tariff barriers that existed between Tanzania and Kenya in early 2021, 55 have been scrapped.

“Our trade is now booming. Go and read statistics,” she said, imploring the lawyers to support the cross-border business in the region," she said.

Trade row

The burning of poultry from Kenya in November 2017 and February 2018 was preceded by the auctioning of 1,325 heads of cattle from Kenya by the Tanzanian authorities.

The animals belonged to Kenyan herders and were confiscated in October 2017 while grazing on the Tanzania side of the common border.

The Magufuli-led government seized several heads of cattle belonging to Maasai herdsmen who have ventured into the country in search of water and pasture.

Kenya’s then CS for East Africa Community (EAC), in a protest letter, said the decision was against the spirit of “good neighbourliness,” noting that since August, Kenya had allowed across its borders 4,000 cattle from Tanzania.

Another diplomatic tiff had been witnessed earlier in March 2016 when Tanzanian authorities confiscated the passports of top Kenyan officials, including then Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, denying them access to the port of Tanga.

However, no such actions were taken against the Ugandan delegation that had accompanied Keter to Tanzania from Lamu on a tour that was aimed at unlocking the deadlock over the construction of a crude oil pipeline from the oil fields of Uganda. Ultimately, Uganda decided to use the Tanga route.

The actions by the government of late Magufuli rekindled the suspicious relationship Kenya and Tanzania had during the Cold War era when Dar-es-Salaam pursued a socialist policy while Nairobi followed in the footsteps of its colonial masters in trying to perfect a free market economy.

Apart from the saga of burning chicks, auctioning livestock and frustrating Kenyan government officials, hundreds of ordinary Kenyans have suffered at the hands of Tanzanian authorities.

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