Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has now been given 10 days to establish and report to MPs on when Ms Mwende Mwinzi, Kenya’s envoy-designate to Seoul, South Korea, intends to renounce her US citizenship before she takes up her appointment.
The National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments, meeting Thursday afternoon, directed the minister to contact Ms Mwinzi after it was established that she had not taken up the appointment, contrary to claims.
Endebess MP Robert Pukose had claimed on the floor of the House that Ms Mwinzi had already taken up the appointment without renouncing her US citizenship, forcing House Speaker Justin Muturi to order the committee, chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta, to undertake the inquiry.
Dr Pukose did not turn up to pursue his claims. But when Dr Juma appeared before the committee yesterday, she said that none of the envoys-designate had taken up their appointments.
“The ministry has received the appointment letters of all the designate envoys except Ms Mwinzi. This is in respect to the decision of the National Assembly approving the nominees. Claims that she has already taken up her appointment are untrue,” she said.
“No one has left because the ministry is not yet done with the administrative processes- we are currently preparing a dispatch of all designates but I must admit that Ms Mwinzi’s case is unprecedented,” she said.
In June this year, the House approved the report of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee approving the appointment of all the nominees but with a caveat that Ms Mwinzi renounces her US citizenship in line with the constitution.
Article 78 (2) of the Constitution says that a State officer or a member of the defence forces shall not hold dual citizenship.
Envoys are public officers and although the constitution does not expressly categorize them as State Officers, clause 52 of the Leadership and Integrity Act says public officers are also State Officers.
Clause 31 (2) of the Leadership and Integrity Act goes on to say 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 of 2011.
Although Ms Mwinzi was yet to renounce her US citizenship, Dr Juma told the committee that she has already undergone an induction course as required just like the other designates prompting Mr Kenta to question why the government was spending resources on her yet she had not complied with a parliamentary resolution.
“If somebody has not been appointed, why utilize state resources to train them,” Mr Kenta inquired even as Dr Juma said that it is part of the preparatory processes involved.
Nevertheless, Dr Juma told the committee that the process involved in appointing and dispatching an envoy is quite elaborate.
After letters of appointment have been received by the ministry, envoy designates are supposed to undergo a mandatory induction course.
The names are sent to receiving countries and if there is no objection, they are then dispatched to start their duties.
If Ms Mwinzi fails to renounce her other citizenship, Dr Juma assured the committee that Kenya’s embassy in Seoul, South Korea will not be affected as it already has the staff to keep it operating.