A diaspora lobby has condemned Kenyan MPs for forcing President Uhuru’s nominee for Kenya’s High Commissioner to South Korea Mwende Mwinzi to renounce her US citizenship before taking up the position.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) accused MPs of hypocrisy, adding that the way they have treated Ms. Mwende was a reflection of the contempt they have for Kenyans in the diaspora.
KCA, which was at the forefront in the fight for inclusion of dual citizenship clause in the 2010 Constitution, vowed to stand with Mwende.
“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 group said as quoted by Daily Nation.
“This is a familiar pattern in Kenyan politics where backdoor schemes are done to secure high-level positions. With the presidential strategizing 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,” it added.
The MPs’ fight against Mwende is a threat to diaspora rights and a war against Kenyans living abroad, the group said.
“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 organization want eight MPs and two senators probed. This places the vetting committee’s credibility in question,” the group noted.
The statement was jointly 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.
Mwende has filed a case at the high court seeking to block MPs’ move to force her to relinquish her US citizenship. In court documents, she argues that the move amounts to a violation of her constitutional rights.
“My US citizenship was acquired by birth and as such, my citizenship or the process of opting in was a consequence of circumstances out of my control,” Mwinzi argues in an affidavit.
“I did not participate in the decision to be born in the US and I cannot “opt-out” of that decision. Article 78(3) (b) would only be applicable to people who opted in by applying for citizenship and renunciation would be the process of ‘opting out’,” she adds.
MPs insist that Mwinzi, a Kenyan and US citizenship holder, must renounce her American one before being deployed to Seoul.
MPs cite section 31(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, which bars persons with dual citizenship from holding State offices unless they renounce one.