Mabirizi argues that the ban on the importation of goods from EAC partner states is unlawful and infringement on the fundamental and operational principles of the community, which among others encourages free movement of goods, transparency, democracy and rule of law, accountability and equitable distribution of benefits.
City lawyer Male Mabirizi has petitioned
the East African Court of Justice challenging the decision by the Kenyan
government to suspend the importation of maize and chicken products from
Uganda and Tanzania. The petition stems from two directives issued by the
Kenyan Government on January 14th 2021 and March 5, 2021, banning the
importation of maize and chicken products from Uganda.
On March 5,
2021, Kello Harsama, the Director-General of Kenya
Agriculture and Food Authority instructed the Commissioner Customs and Kenya
Revenue Authority to stop with immediate effect the importation of maize from Uganda
and Tanzania. In his letter, Harsama noted that various studies had shown that
Ugandan maize contains Mycotoxins beyond the permitted levels.
Authority has been conducting surveillance on the safety of food imports to
Kenya. Test results for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania have revealed
High levels of mycotoxins that are consistently beyond the safety limits “,
reads the letter in part. It adds that
“Mycotoxins, particularly aflatoxins and lumonisins are known to be
carcinogenic. Over the years a number of acute and chronic aflatoxin related
illness cards have been recorded in Kenya including death".
Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins
produced by certain moulds (fungi) and can be found in food.
The moulds grow on
a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including cereals, nuts, spices,
dried fruits, apples and coffee beans, often under warm and humid conditions. Mabirizi
is also challenging the January 14, 2021, memo issued by the Kenyan Government through
its Director Veterinary Services banning the importation of chicken, chicken
cuts and eggs from the East African Community states in the pretext of supporting
Kenyan producers to recover from the disruption of Covid-19. The memo was addressed
to the head of veterinary services, officers in charge and port of entry.
However, Mabirizi argues that the ban on the importation of
goods from EAC partner states is unlawful and infringement on the fundamental
and operational principles of the community, which among others encourages free
movement of goods, transparency, democracy and rule of law, accountability and
equitable distribution of benefits.
In his petition where the Kenyan Attorney General is listed
as the only respondent, Mabirizi says the directives denied the affected
partner states and their residents a right to be heard before the said decision
was implemented. He further says that the directives contravene the
principles of non-discrimination of nationals of partner states on the ground
of nationality and undermine the understanding and cooperation among the
nationals of the member states.
He wants the East
African Court of Justice to quash the directives and issues a permanent
order restraining Kenya from implementing the same on the ground that they
contravene several articles of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East
African Community. Asked if he is aware of the decision by Kenya lifting the
ban on the importation of Ugandan maize, Mabirizi said that he has gone to
court because the Ugandan government will not keep on bending and begging Kenya to
lift their unlawful bans.
//Cue in: ”We are not….
Cue out: to be similar”. //
//Cue in: “Ensonga eliwo Kati..
Cue out: bwetujja mubyobusubuzi”. //
This is not the first time the Kenyan government is banning Ugandan imports, an
issue that has even attracted debate and criticism by the Parliament of
Uganda. In 2020, Kenya banned the
importation of Lato Milk and sugarcanes from Uganda among others.
On November 30th, 1999, Kenya through the late President
Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi signed a treaty for the Establishment of the East
African Community. On November 20th 2009, the partner states signed a Protocol
on the Establishment of East African Community Common Market.