Officials from both Kenya and Tanzania have taken to Twitter, accusing each other of playing foul in the ‘tourist van ban’ saga.
The questioning started innocently enough, with Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe wondering aloud what the basis was for barring Tanzania registered tour companies from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“The [Kenyan] Government gives priority to Kenyans,” Kenya’s East African Affairs, Trade and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie responded, “we have enforced 1985’s bilateral agreement. Talks are on to have a solution, KE&TZ are on same team.”
“Economics or politics or both madam Minister? Shall we ban your milk into TZ too,” Kabwe replied, referring to Brookside Milk, which is partly owned by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Madam, we have the right to retaliate,” another tweet by Kabwe stated.
“You maintain your ban, we respond in kind. Your president should look for somewhere else to sell his milk.”
Nairobi County Senator Mike Sonko then tweeted that he’d travel to Tanzania to demand an apology.
“Kenyans cannot allow you to threaten and blackmail our President,” Sonko wrote to Kabwe.
Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources Lazaro Nyalandu was also active on Twitter on Sunday, tweeting in Swahili that Kenya’s decision to enforce the ban was “not only unwise but also undiplomatic.”
“I am a Pan-Africanist but I am a Tanzanian, first and foremost,” wrote Nyalandu.
Last week, Kenya re-affirmed it’s ban of Tanzanian tourist company vehicles at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and at any parks in the country using a 30-year-old agreement.
The two tourism-driven nations have recently been at odds in a back-and-forth squabble over rights of tour companies in each other’s countries.
In January, Tanzania had requested a three-week timeframe to resolve the matter, says the Nairobi-based Daily Nation.
Those three weeks have expired and Kenya has decided to take action, says Kandie.
Read more: Neighbours lock horns in tourism spat