Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb. Macharia Kamau has warned newly-elected MPs that their social media following and activity could cause them challenges while seeking visas to countries such as the U.S.
Kamau explained that the U.S and other Western countries have laws that classify elected leaders with a huge online following as a “special category”, which could see them barred from accessing their visas.
The U.S, Kamau said, treats politicians with many followers on social media as a Politically Exposed Personality (PEP) and thus the verification process can be used to frustrate their visa applications.
“...You are now a Politically Exposed Personality. Once you become an MP or a highly active political actor when your Twitter handle has a million people, that is enough trigger that you are now a PEP,” Kamau told MPs during the ongoing induction workshop at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
“…Meaning because of the US legislation, put during Obama years, that they are now keeping an eye on those people who are politically active, not just for money which was but also for political activity.”
The ambassador urged the MPs to be careful with their social media engagements to avoid being put through a rigorous process of referrals while applying for visas to the U.S.
“You hear your Visa is now referred to Washington…you go there with your shemeji, he is given his visa and proceeds to America but wewe mdosi wa parliament you are told to wait. When it goes to reference it now joins a long queue sometimes you can take three to four months, and you even give up and go and take your passport,” he remarked.