Diaspora lobby backs Mwende Mwinzi's appointment as envoy

Mwende Mwinzi during her vetting by the National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations for the position of Kenya's ambassador to Seoul, South Korea, May 28, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The lobby's appeal comes after the National Assembly's Defence and Foreign Relations recommended the approval of Ms Mwinzi’s nomination alongside six others but on condition that she renounces her US citizenship.
  • KDA's global chairman Dr Shem Ochuodho has written an open letter to Speaker Justin Muturi, saying the citizenship condition is punitive.
  • But on Wednesday, Mr Muturi said his hands were tied because, as Standing Order 122 provides, he has no vote in the House other and only presides over its business.
  • It’s not clear why the KDA failed to present its views to the committee by way of memoranda as per the public notices put in newspapers, considering vetting for public appointments is open to public participation.

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) wants Ms Mwende Mwinzi appointed Kenya’s ambassador to Seoul, South Korea, regardless of her dual citizenship.

The lobby's appeal comes after the National Assembly's Defence and Foreign Relations recommended the approval of Ms Mwinzi’s nomination alongside six others but on condition that she renounces her US citizenship.

KDA's global chairman Dr Shem Ochuodho described the rider as punitive.

“KDA considers that the matter of renouncing other citizenship is no longer a “Mwende issue” but an affront on all diaspora, dual citizens, women, children of diasporas and all future generations of Kenyans residing abroad,” Dr Ochuodho says in an open letter to House Speaker Justin Muturi.

'HAND TIED'

But on Wednesday, Mr Muturi said his hands were tied because, as Standing Order 122 provides, he has no vote in the House other and only presides over its business.

“It does not make sense to write to me because where the matter stands, it’s for the House to make a decision," the Speaker said.

"The committee did its work and came up with a report perfectly within the House rules, the law and the Constitution."

It’s not clear why the KDA failed to present its views to the committee by way of memoranda as per the public notices put in newspapers, considering vetting for public appointments is open to public participation.

DEBATE

The report of the committee chaired by Kajiado South member of Parliament Katoo Ole Metito is set for debate in the House.

At the end of the debate, the MPs will make a decision on whether to approve or reject the report as it is or alter it through amendments.

If approved as is, Mr Muturi will submit it to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment but Ms Mwinzi’s name will only be gazetted after she renounces her US citizenship.

In the event that she assumes office before renouncing the US citizenship, it will be interesting to see where her allegiance will lie considering the US has a lot of interests in South Korea.

THE LAW

Dr Ochuodho says that Article 234 (3) of the constitution distinguishes ambassadors and diplomatic officers as unique ‘public officers’, with very distinct attributes to those of ‘state officers’.

The same Constitution, in Article 80, mandates Parliament to come up with a law - Leadership and Integrity Act, on the effective administration of Chapter Six, which binds all State and public officers.

Section 52 of the Act stipulates that the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution and part II (general leadership and integrity code) shall apply to all public officers as if they were State officers.

The same law, in Section 31 (1) as enacted by Parliament, provides that a State officer who acquires dual citizenship shall lose the position.

Subsection two says “a person who holds dual citizenship shall, upon election or appointment to a State office, not take office before officially renouncing the other citizenship in accordance with the provisions of Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011".

Equally, Article 78 (1) of the Constitution says a person is not eligible for election or appointment to a State office unless the person is a citizen of Kenya. It also says a State Officer or a member of the defence forces shall not hold dual citizenship.

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