Courtesy of his sharp and loose tongue, years-long efforts to end Kenya-Tanzania simmering trade dispute now hangs in the balance.
On Tuesday, the Musician turned legislator bit more than he could chew and unleashed explosive xenophobic diarrhoea and urged members of the public to attack foreign traders.
“I saw the other day Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang’i saying he had deported six Chinese nationals I want to tell him today We are not talking about six Chinese nationals. We are talking of hundreds of foreigners who work here (Kenya). I give the government 24 hours to evict these foreigners lest I, being a representative of this area, go into their shops, beat them and send them all the way to the airport…(Translated)” The youthful Member of Parliament who has only spoken three times in Parliament since the year started squealed to all and sundry.
Nairobi's Starehe Constituency, which Mr. Njagua represents in the National Assembly, includes the expansive Gikomba market popular in Kenya for second-hand clothes and construction materials.
Mr. Njagua was elected to office in 2017 riding largely on his popularity as a local musician. According to Mzalendo Trust, a non-partisan entity that keeps an eye on Kenyan Parliament Njagua has only spoken 58 times since joining Parliament.
His utterances come hot on the heels of deportation of Chinese nationals who were found selling second-hand clothes in Nairobi’s Gikomba market.
However, no sooner had he uttered his poorly thought-out sentiments than he waded into hot soup.
On Wednesday, Tanzania summoned Kenyan High Commissioner to Dar es Salaam Dan Kazungu to explain the 'xenophobic' remarks made by the Kenyan MP.
Speaking during the evening session, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the government took the remarks seriously and has summoned Kenya’s envoy to explain.
“We summoned the Kenyan High Commissioner to Tanzania. We also spoke to our High Commissioner in Kenya. The Kenyan diplomat said it was a personal utterance that had nothing to do with the official position of the Kenyan government. He promised that his country would summon the lawmaker to explain what he actually meant by the statement,” said Mr. Majaliwa.
In a bid to control the damage caused by the first time MP, the Kenyan government quickly distanced itself from his comments and assured safety to foreigners who wish to invest in the country.
"Kenyans are [a] peace loving people who have over the years coexisted with others of different nationalities. This is a value that we cherish as a nation and wish to uphold," said the statement.
On Wednesday morning Police swung into action and arrested him outside Parliament buildings but the damage had already been done.
While Jaguar is a Kenyan leader and it is within his rights to champion for the plight of Kenyan traders, more so small traders who daily struggle to make ends meet, there is nothing sober and mature about his sentiments.
It is hard to see what meaningful benefit he thought would have resulted in him spewing hate in the name of protecting ‘our own’
Had he paused for a moment and just think about the countless man-hours the two countries have put in resolving years of trade squabbles he would have just shut up.
Geopolitics is no child play and Jaguar’s foolhardy shows exactly why some leaders more so those with no background in leadership and diplomacy have no business talking about it.
Experienced leaders know that even one wrong word or look risks killing years-long efforts to bring two opposites sides to the table.
For a leader who prides himself of being close to President Uhuru Kenyatta if indeed he had grievances about Ugandans, Congolese, Tanzanians and virtually anyone who is conducting their trade in Kenya why not bring it up with the president?
Does Jaguar really know what’s his mandate as a Member of Parliament? I doubt so if his remarks are anything to go by. Instead of formulating trade policies and raising the matter in parliament where he is a member he has now resorted to this cheap ‘thuggery’, what a shame.
Kenya is largely a capitalistic economy and as a result practices ‘free trade’ this means anyone with the means can pitch their tent in Kenya and open shop so long as they have met the laid down regulations.
Somebody needs to tell Jaguar that ‘Capitalism’ and ‘Free trade’ are not music album names rather they are concrete economic terms he needs to quickly familiarize himself with.
It is leaders like Jaguar that give youth a bad name and only end up vaporizing the little faith youth have left with the electorate. While his Musician colleagues turned politicians the likes of Ugandan Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine and Tanzanian Joseph Haule, popularly known as Professor Jay are going to great lengths to show indeed Youths can be trusted with leadership, Kenya's Jaguar is busy killing that very believe.
The little trade going on between Kenya and Tanzania today took personal intervention of President Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli to even have a chance.
In April 2017, Kenya banned the importation of cooking gas from Tanzania, in a move the ministry of energy said was meant to curb the proliferation of illegal filling plants.
In return for the ‘kind gesture’, Tanzania banned importation of milk from Kenya and what followed next was months of simmering trade dispute which each country imposing trade barrier after another.
As a result of the trade restrictions, Kenya’s exports to Tanzania dropped by 34% in the first five months of 2017, to Sh4.35 billion ($42 million).
After months of painful negotiations, a trade truce was finally signed by Former Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahinga on 23rd July 2018.
It is unfortunate that while President Uhuru Kenyatta is trying hard to position Kenya as the financial hub of East Africa and even went as far as issuing a directive in 2017 to issue visas to all African nationals on arrival at the country’s various ports of entry, first time MPs the likes of Jaguar may sabotage the entire plan. Somebody needs to rein them quickly and hard.