Kenya Diaspora Alliance USA has accused Parliament of “baseless attacks” on Mwende Mwinzi, who was appointed as ambassador to South Korea without the House approval.
In a statement on Tuesday, the lobby group said it is deeply concerned at attempts to “undermined the dual citizenship rights of Kenyans in the Diaspora as espoused in the Constitution of Kenya and the Constitutive act of the African Union.”
“These attempts have been recently manifested in attacks against Kenya’s Ambassador to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi,” the lobby said in the statement.
This comes days after Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau on Friday said Mwinzi has 10 days to make up her mind over her citizenship or lose her job.
Kamau told Parliament that the Ministry of Foreign has written to Mwinzi over her dual citizenship and will report to the Parliamentary committee on her response within the next 10 days.
“We have written to her to ask her the same question. We had to do so because until we triggered the appointment, it was impossible for her to say that I want this job or I want to retain my citizenship. This is the conundrum we were putting on her,” Kamau said.
The PS was appearing alongside his boss, Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, before the National Assembly Committee on Implementation regarding the implementation status of the House resolution on the conditional approval of Mwinzi as envoy.
Mwinzi is facing off with MPs after she took up the Seoul job without denouncing her citizenship.
During her vetting in 2019, the lawmakers approved her nomination with a caveat that she denounced her US citizenship.
Months later in November, MPs rejected Mwinzi’s nomination as Kenya’s envoy citing refusal to renounce her US citizenship. She was nevertheless appointed ambassador and last month presented her credentials. This angered MPs and Mosop legislator Vincent Tuwei raised the matter in the House.
Statement on attacks on the Rights of Kenyans in the Diaspora by the National Assembly pic.twitter.com/5Yb8VinFNS
— Kenya Diaspora Alliance-USA (@kenya_usa) March 16, 2021
MPs cited section 31 (1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, which bars persons with dual citizenship from holding State offices unless they renounce one.
But in a ruling on November 14, 2019, Justice James Makau ruled that Mwinzi did not have to renounce her American citizenship to take up the job.
Makau further noted that an ambassador is not a state officer, but a public officer and hence is not required by law to renounce her citizenship. He, however, noted that the appointment was not an event but a process and the move to file the petition before the process was completed was premature.
“It is in public interest that the process should be allowed to be completed,” he said.
“The issues of Ambassador Mwinzi touches on the rights of millions of Kenyans with dual citizenship, some of whom continue to be victimised over their status, as exemplified by the illegal deportation of Dr. Miguna Miguna and the violation of his rights, despite several court order,” the lobby said.
KDA further said the government and people of Kenya should embrace diaspora’s intellectual contributions “with the same vigour they do the Sh341 billion we send to the country every year”.
“We demand the National Assembly stops its baseless attacks on Ambassador Mwinzi and instead focus on legislation to improve the socialeconomic lives of millions of Kenyans,” the statement said.
Professor Makau Mutua, himself a diapora, said Mwinzi should be allowed serve her country.
“Respect the rights of the Diaspora,” he said in a tweet.