Diaspora lobby backs Mwinzi for South Korea envoy job

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance says dual citizenship does not bar a Kenyan national from being appointed as an ambassador

In Summary

• The lobby claims that denying Mwinzi the job amounts to discrimination against dual citizens.

• The National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations Committee recommended that she renounces her US citizenship before taking up the job.

Mwende Mwinzi
Mwende Mwinzi
Image: FILE

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance wants Mwende Mwinzi, the Kenya Ambassador nominee to South Korea, approved despite her dual citizenship.

The National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, which vetted seven nominees last week, presented its report to the House recommending the appointment of the nominees but with a disclaimer on Mwinzi’s approval. Mwinzi is also a US citizen. 

The House committee said Mwinzi should renounce her US citizenship and take up the job or forget about it altogether. 

Section 31 (1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act provides that a State officer who acquires dual citizenship shall lose his or her position.

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

But in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Shem Ochuodho, the chairman of the diaspora lobby, has protested the committee's reservations, arguing that Mwinzi is a bona fide Kenyan.

The letter dismisses assertions that the nominee cannot take up her appointment because of dual citizenship. It says that while state officers are required to first renounce dual citizenship before taking charge, ambassadors do not fall under that category.

"We note that Article 16 grants dual citizens full rights of a citizen, except where qualified by the Constitution. While the Constitution restricts dual citizens from holding state offices, we are also alive to Article 260, which defines ‘state offices’, and they exclude diplomatic appointments," the letter reads.

"We are deeply perturbed because, as a country, we appear to continue to treat diaspora, and dual citizens in particular, as if they are aliens or second-class citizens."

The lobby gives examples of Kenyan nationals who serve as Consular General for other countries among them former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka (Cyprus) and Business Mogul Chris Kirubi (Ghana). 

"We expect the law to be applied equally across the board, including also to diaspora and more so dual citizens," it says. 

(Edited by F'Orieny)