Tanzania has summoned Kenya’s High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam following remarks made by a Kenyan parliamentarian. Remarks the Kenyan government have since denounced as xenophobic.
In an undated video that has circulated widely on social media, Starehe MP Charles Njagua Kanyi is seen giving the Kenyan government 24 hours to move foreign traders out of Gikomba market in Nairobi or else he would force them out.
“We will get into those shops they do business in, we will remove them, we will beat them and we will take them to the airport. The only work that will be left for Matiangi (Interior Cabinet Secretary) and the immigration department will be to pick them from the airport and deport them to wherever they came from,” MP Njagua said.
The legislator’s remarks did not go down well with Tanzanian leaders, who fear for the lives of their countrymen who operate businesses in the market. They suspect Kanyi was targeting his comments at Tanzanian and Ugandan merchants.
Following Njagua’s remarks, Rufiji Member of Parliament Mohammed Mchengerwa sought guidance on the need for the Tanzanian government to issue a statement on the safety of Tanzanian traders doing business in Kenya.
Gikomba market is a large informal retail point widely known in East Africa for second-hand clothing and household items.
Traders there come from all over the region, including Tanzania and Uganda.
The Kenyan government distanced itself from Kanyi’s remarks, reiterating that foreign business owners were assured of their safety and that of their businesses.
“We wish to state that this is not the position of the Government of the Republic of Kenya, and we denounce the comments carried in the video in the strongest terms possible,” Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said in a statement.
“Such comments are unfortunate and have no place in today’s globalized environment. Kenyans are peace loving people who have over the years coexisted with others of different nationalities.”