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How Raila Odinga charmed his way into bringing Uhuru and Maghufuli together




President Kenyatta received by his host Magufuli during his private visit to Chato on July 5, 2019.

After an acrimonious fall out between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Maghufuli in 2017, details have emerged how Raila Odinga worked his magic in ensuring the two leaders saw eye to eye. After months of intense lobbying from the ODM leader, Uhuru and Maghufuli now have a blossoming relationship. This has restored normalcy in the Kenya-Tanzania relationship which has been on the rocks since 2015.

However, what is the genesis of the previously bad blood between President Maghufuli and Uhuru Kenyatta? At the height of the 2014/2015 campaigns for the Tanzanian Presidential elections, Jubilee Party which was headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta threw its weight behind President Maghufuli’s main competitor, Edward Lowassa and went ahead to provide both technical and financial support for his campaigns. This rubbed Maghufuli the wrong way. Jubilee decided to get involved in the Tanzania elections by virtue of John Maghufuli being a close ally of Raila Odinga.

Later on during Kenya’s presidential election President Maghufuli would throw his weight behind Raila Odinga to payback at President Uhuru who had endorsed his rival in 2015. From this point, tension between the two countries grew two fold to a point where the two Presidents did not see eye to eye. The situation was so bad that President Maghufuli skipped Uhuru’s inauguration to office in 2017 November.

It is out of this deteriorated situation that  Raila Odinga saw it fit to act as the intermediary and mediate between Uhuru and Maghufuli. The  push to get the two heads of state into talking terms say it took the intervention of Mr Odinga to create an enabling environment for engagement.

“A day before President Kenyatta went to Dar, Raila talked with Magufuli about the visit on phone. Again, after the President inspected ongoing works at the Kisumu port, Raila had passed by Dar,” a close associate of one of the two leading politicians said.

Before the deal was brokered numerous phone calls were made between the three leaders, Raila, Uhuru and Maghufuli. The phone calls were made sometimes when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were together or when the opposition chief was in Tanzania.

Raila Odinga chose to bring Uhuru and Maghufuli together to not only restore broken relationship between the two countries but also  because of the need  for Tanzanian support in making Kenya a regional maritime hub.




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