While addressing the nation yesterday, president Museveni said that Uganda will not retaliate because this never offers a long-lasting solution to the problem. His remarks come at the backdrop of a heated row between the two East African Community (EAC) countries over’s Kenya’s ban on the importation of Uganda’s maize and poultry products. Kenyan slapped a ban on the importation of Uganda’s maize last week on the grounds that, it contains high levels of aflatoxins beyond the permitted limited.
Meanwhile, Kenya has since lifted the maize ban after setting several safety conditions and measures. The Kenyan government has overtime imposed non-tariff restrictions on other Ugandan commodities such as milk, eggs, and sugarcane. Recently, the Ugandan parliament expressed displeasure with the fact that Ugandan supermarkets are flooded with Kenyan products yet the Ugandan government remains silent when Kenya bans Ugandan products.
Museveni noted that the issue of banned commodities should not take the stage, saying Ugandans and other citizens in the region need to focus on the larger picture of integration. Ugandan produce dealers reportedly lost Shs 5billion
within three days following the ban as the Kenyan authorities returned over 70,000 metric tons of maize, the producers had exported to the neighboring country.
Museveni said that the current situation can be resolved with patience, focus, and negotiations rather than excitement by a section of politicians who want to be seen talking on television even when they are speaking nothing. “Dialogue, cooperation, engagement is what we need not just empty shouting on TVs such that they see that you have spoken even when you have spoken nothing,” Museveni said.
He adds that although integration might not be the solution to the challenge of banned commodities, the problem will never arise if integration succeeds. To back his argument, the president reminded Ugandans, about how much foreign exchange the country is fetching from trade with Kenya compared to the 1980s before they took the first step towards the revival of regional cooperation.
Museveni explained that sometime in 1986, Ugandans wanted the government to close their borders with Kenya but he took a bold decision of not interfering with trade, a decision he says has since benefited Uganda. Museveni noted that there is a lot that needs to be done to improve the quality of Ugandan products. He says that apart from Kenya, countries like Algeria and Iran wanted to import Ugandan milk and maize but the deal failed due to poor quality