As Kenya hits back at Britain, Africa picks its lesson.

by | Apr 7, 2021 | International, Opinions, Politics | 0 comments

Hosia Mviringi

In a rare and yet dramatic turn of events, Kenya has hit back at the UK in a typical tit-for-tat fashion, in response to Britain’s blanket (Covid-19) ban on travellers from various countries of the world, mostly Africa, including Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Kenya has challenged the wisdom behind what appears like an arbitrary unscientific classification of countries.

“This decision by the Government of the United Kingdom to ‘Red list’ Kenya and to stop all travel from Kenya, for citizens resident in Kenya and those transiting through Kenya to the United Kingdom, will have deep and far-reaching consequences on the Kenya-United Kingdom trade, tourism, and security sector cooperation, among other sectors .

This decision is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the United Kingdom and Kenya enjoy a strong and long lasting relationship embedded in a strategic partnership that has multiple dimensions including health, education, security, trade, and people to people relations,” read a statement by the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on April 3 2021.

The UK issued a Note Verbal reference number 405/12 which prohibits entry into the UK to travellers from such countries as Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Zambia and Zimbabwe over COVID-19 fears.

This is besides the fact that the UK has recorded more COVID-19 related deaths than all African countries combined.
This brings us to the all important question. Is it about fear of the virus or there is something else?

Kenya did not waste any time to retaliate.

“However, in light of the decisions undertaken by the UK, Kenya has decided to undertake the following decisions;
As a direct reciprocal response to the measures indicated in NV 405/21, all passenger flights, whether commercial or charter, between Kenya and the United Kingdom are suspended as of midnight 9 April 2021.

This suspension will be reviewed within four weeks.

All cargo flights may continue without restriction, on the condition that all crew members present certificates of vaccination against Covid-19, and carry a valid Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate,” the statement continued.

Moving forward, all passengers coming into Kenya from the United Kingdom must have Covid-19 vaccination certificates and a Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate, and must self-isolate for a period of seven days at own cost .

“All UK citizens and residents travelling to Kenya from the UK, irrespective of their route of travel to Kenya, and who do not have a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, but who must nonetheless have a Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate, shall be subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine on arrival at a Government facility at their own cost.

All travellers under the age of 18 will only require a Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate to enter Kenya”, said Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The retaliatory action has been hailed as the most appropriate response to the current bullying by Western Countries who thing that they alone hold the levers to bilateral and multilateral relations, be them political, social, trade or security.

The UK has one of the most stubborn variants of the Covid-19 virus in the world, in the same category as South Africa.
What baffles the mind is the UK’s inclination to meeting out measures against countries who have fared much better so far in the management and mitigation of the pandemic worldwide who could be providing invaluable lessons to Her Majesty’s British Empire.

Zimbabwe has been a shining light to the world in the manner the country has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the way it has managed to lead in rolling out Covid-19 vaccination programs in Africa.
It is thus important to look beyond the UK’s recent actions which could very well be interpreted as discriminatory aggressive and a form of sanctions against these targeted countries.

One would have expected the UK to rely on publicly available World Health Organisation data, which include infection rates, management practices, level of vaccination and the prevalent Covid-19 variants in targeted jurisdictions.
However, all these factors that make up reliable scientific data has been disregarded in the UK’s latest efforts which are an affront to these nations’ quest to deal decisively with the pandemic.

One would have expected the UK, as a so-called leader in the ‘developed world’, to offer support to these countries to improve their material responses for quick economic recovery. But nay, the British chose ostracism.
Kenya might be in the middle of a third wave of the pandemic, but at least they are still dealing with the known variant which can be managed using current conventional methods.

What they need more than anything is support and not sanctions or isolation.

Statistically, Kenya, at 2224 recorded deaths so far have performed much better than the UK, which is sitting on more than 127000 deaths for an island nation.

For Zimbabwe to be found among those nations banned under NV405/21 is not surprising.

Zimbabwe has recorded a modest 1500 deaths to date and is a leader in Africa in terms of mitigatory capabilities and vaccine rollout efficiency.

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions from the West for repossessing its land from white minority settler farmers, threats, blackmail and aggression are not a new phenomenon.

Zimbabwe is on record turning down the free offer of the UK’s ill-fated AstraZeneca vaccine opting for the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. Zimbabwe, as informed as always, took its time before latching on to the Covax bandwagon which was voluntarily dangled by the world’s rich nations through such front organisations as GAVI.

Zimbabwe became a leader and a model to many countries who have since made a beeline to the Asian nation for some of the safest approved vaccines to date.

Kenya, seems to be taking a similar revolutionary stance in not taking subtle insults lying down.

“All United Kingdom Government officials and Diplomats carrying government official travel documentation must have a valid Covid-19 vaccination certificate and a Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate to enter Kenya,” said the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in concluding remarks.