How parliament is scheming to frustrate envoy Mwende Mwinzi in South Korea - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 19 February 2021

How parliament is scheming to frustrate envoy Mwende Mwinzi in South Korea

 

The National Assembly is on a collision course with the Executive following the appointment of Mwende Mwinzi as Kenya’s envoy to South Korea against a resolution of the House in 2019 that the issue of her dual citizenship be addressed first.

Ms Mwinzi, who is a US citizen by birth, also holds Kenyan citizenship.

The resolution of the House while adopting the report of the Defense and Foreign Relations committee that vetted her suitability to serve Kenya’s interests in Korea was that she renounces her US citizenship first.

Among the issues the National Assembly is now mulling over to frustrate her appointment, is to deny the Kenyan embassy in South Korea funds during the 2021/22 financial year.

Even though Mosop MP Vincent Tuwei told the House yesterday that Ms Mwinzi had been appointed and posted to Seoul, South Korea on February 17, 2021, he requested that Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri) establishes whether it is true and report to the House.

“The leader of majority should confirm whether the appointment and reporting of the envoy is true. He should also confirm whether she renounced her US citizenship before the appointment,” Mr Tuwei said.

“In the event the resolution of the House was not implemented, could the House take a stand by declining to allocate funds to the Kenyan embassy in Korea in the 2021/22 financial year,” he added.

Conditional approval

Though Mr Kimunya threw the ball to the Defense and Foreign Relations committee to investigate the matter, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said the issue raised by Mr Tuwei was serious and requires the directive from Speaker Justin Muturi, who was in the chair at the time.

“Given the nature of the issue raised, it requires direction from you. It is an issue that borders on contempt of parliament. The issue of contempt of parliament ought to take priority over other issues,” Mr Amollo said.

“Where the law says that the particular approval takes effect with the approval of the House there can be no other way around it. If the House rejects, there can be no other legal process where one can end up being appointed,” the Rarieda MP said.

He noted that if the Mwende issue is allowed to stand, it will affect all other rejections done by the House.

“If one can be appointed despite rejection by this House it means there is no point in considering that rejection.”

Mr Tuwei is a member of the House committee on Defense and Foreign Relations that vetted Ms Mwinzi for the post alongside six other nominees, and gave conditional approval in its report on June 6, 2019 that she renounces her US citizenship before her appointment.

The House Committee on Implementation took up the matter to establish the status of the implementation of the resolution of the House of defense committee’s report.

Vetted and approved

In its report to the House in 2019, the Committee on Implementation chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta affirmed the decision of its Defense counterpart that Ms Mwinzi renounces her US citizenship first before taking up the appointment.

Interestingly, the report was yet to be debated and adopted. But yesterday, Speaker Muturi noted that the procedural matters raised are weighty as he directed the Committee on Implementation report be listed for debate on Tuesday next week.

“I am fully aware of the Defense and Foreign Relations committee’s findings and the resolution of the House on this matter. I am also aware of the findings by the implementation committee report which has not been debated,” Speaker Muturi said.

“As the Speaker of the House you don’t speak in vain. You don’t offer opinions in vain. The House has a major responsibility to protect the privileges and rights of parliament,” Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi noted.  

Ms Mwinzi was vetted and approved for appointment on June 6, 2019, by the House Committee on Defense and Foreign Relations but with a rider that she renounces her US citizenship, in line with the constitution, before she is formally appointed.

However, Ms Mwinzi declined and instead moved to court to challenge the committee’s recommendations.

While the court ruled that citizenship acquired by birth cannot be renounced, it did not also overturn the decision of the National Assembly.

It however, made an observation that it will not be proper to appoint an individual with dual citizenship to represent the country’s interests abroad.

Committee recommendations

Ms Mwinzi was among a group of about six nominees who were approved for appointment by the House.

This means that the appointment of Mwinzi should have awaited the decision of the House on Mr Kenta’s committee recommendations.

If the House invalidates part of the Defense and Foreign Relations Committee’s report on conditional approval, President Kenyatta will have been required to submit another nominee to the House for another round of vetting.

But the appointment and posting of Ms Mwinzi has already complicated the matter on which way for the National Assembly.  

Article 78 (2) of the Constitution states that a State Officer or a member of the defense forces shall not hold dual citizenship.

Envoys are public officers and although the constitution does not expressly categorize them as such, clause 52 of the Leadership and Integrity Act is explicit that public officers are also State Officers.

Clause 31 (2) of the Leadership and Integrity Act further 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.  


COURTESY OF THE DAILY NATION   

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