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Diaspora groups read mischief in Mwende Mwinzi probe

Thursday October 3 2019

Mwende Mwinzi vetting

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

CHRIS WAMALWA
By CHRIS WAMALWA
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PHILADELPHIA, USA

The Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) has criticised MPs’ move to compel Ms Mwende Mwinzi to renounce her American citizenship before she takes up her new appointment as Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon in Washington DC, the group that spearheaded the fight for the inclusion of dual citizenship clause in the Kenyan Constitution in 2010, said the way the legislators have treated Ms Mwinzi is a reflection of the contempt the law makers have for Kenyans living abroad.

HYPOCRISY

The group, which vowed to stand by Ms Mwinzi as she fights the case in court, claimed that her case had been marred with hypocrisy.  

“As someone with family in the US, it is cruel to ask a fellow Kenyan to shoot themselves in the foot in order to serve their country,” the statement said.

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The statement said: “This is a familiar pattern in Kenyan politics where backdoor schemes are done to secure high level positions. With the presidential strategising already in place, political factions have been seeking to have their “person” in lucrative missions. Diplomatic corruption is both an international and local reality. South Korea is a coveted station that requires someone who will not give in to grand corruption schemes,” added the statement.

RIGHTS

The group said the legislators’ war against Ms Mwinzi is a threat to diaspora rights.

 “The sheer hypocrisy of the case has been exposed by the call to probe Members of Parliament who hold dual citizenship. The Kenyans for Justice and Development organisation want eight MPs and two senators probed. This places the vetting committee’s credibility in question,” the statement signed by Ms Mkawasi Mcharo Hall (Lecturer, Howard University, Washington DC), Dr David Otwoma (Chief Scientist, National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation) and Dr Warigia Bowman (Assistant Professor of Law, The University of Tulsa, OK) on behalf of KCA Board of Trustees, said in part.

Early this year, Ms Mwinzi, a dual citizenship holder, went through the vetting process by the National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations as required by law after being nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

FOREIGNER

Some MPs, who claimed that she was a foreigner, began to question her suitability for the post over her dual citizenship.  

It is alleged that some MPs began a campaign to disqualify her on the grounds that her appointment was unconstitutional under the Ethics and Integrity Act.

It however, turned out that her appointment was fully within the law since ambassadors and high commissioners are not considered State officials. 

Under Article 78 (3)(b), Ms Mwinzi is qualified as a Kenyan whose dual nationality is linked to the laws of another nation (the US).

In a sustained campaign against her, Ms Mwinzi’s loyalty has been questioned.

PETITION

Wednesday, while launching a petition in her support, the KCA said opinion-shapers in Kenya, especially those opposed to her nomination, have peddled doubts about not only her ability to be loyal to their country while holding another country’s citizenship, but that of all Kenyans living abroad who hold dual citizenship.

They said this fear of dual citizens and diaspora citizens has often translated to open disdain against Kenyans abroad by legislators.

“When disdain translates to suppression of citizens’ rights and opportunities, then it becomes a legal battle,” KCA said.