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Mabirizi Challenges Kenyan Ban On Ugandan Maize

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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.
Male Mabirizi

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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. 

“The 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.  

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 Luganda Audio  

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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.

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