Kenya: Diaspora Demands More After Mwende Mwinzi Victory

20 November 2019

The diaspora is banking on a recent court decision on the dual nationality issue to push for more reforms targeting Kenyans living abroad.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Diaspora Alliance called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint Ms Mwende Mwinzi as the designate ambassador to South Korea as the High Court has cleared her of the need to renounce her US citizenship.

The group also issued a petition to the National Assembly, asking for specific policy changes.

"The ruling has given the diaspora confidence. This is a landmark decision for our children," said Shem Ochuodho, the Global Chairperson of the lobby that includes 12 diaspora associations.

"We are hoping Parliament can go further and create an environment that will attract the diaspora to participate fully in the economic development of this country."

THE RULING

Last week, the High Court ruled that Kenyans born abroad, of Kenyan parents, can retain their foreign passports while serving in public office, a decision that could protect those holding multiple passports but with local descent.

The ruling was on a case that Ms Mwinzi filed in protest to the conditional approval of the National Assembly which demanded that she only gets appointed after she renounces her US nationality.

Though Justice James Makau said the National Assembly can approve nominees conditionally, he said those born of Kenyan citizens abroad are protected from being forced to relinquish their foreign nationality because it is their birthright.

"The Parliament here cannot force or demand that the petitioner renounces her US citizenship unless she voluntarily decides to do so," he said of Ms Mwinzi.

"Citizenship by birth is an alienable right which cannot be taken away from anyone," the judge said after reviewing Kenyan and US case decisions on the subject of citizenship by birth.

THE DEMANDS

However, the judge dismissed the demand that Ms Mwende be appointed, arguing the process of appointing a nominee is usually legally completed once the President acts on the parliamentary report.

But the KDA is now fronting a petition to the National Assembly, arguing it could cement their unhindered participation in the country's public service.

The alliance says such a policy must include establishment of a State department of diaspora affairs as well as a clear policy that will allow Kenyans abroad to vote electronically.

At the moment, only Kenyans in select countries have been able to vote manually and their affairs are managed through the department of consular and diaspora affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Though Kenya passed the Diaspora Policy in 2015, the KDA says it should be given incentives similar to foreign investors and be included in census reports.

Specifically, the associations have demanded that Kenya's foreign missions provide services for replacement or application of national IDs and certificates of good conduct, and be allowed to be interviewed for public service jobs.

At the moment, embassies may provide temporary travel documents and Kenyans abroad can only get the equivalent of certificates of good conduct through Interpol.

OSOTSI'S MOTION

On Wednesday, nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi is expected to table a motion in the National Assembly for formulation of a "comprehensive policy" to harness the diaspora's contribution.

It is expected that the policy will be ready within a year for parliamentary approval.

"[The] contribution by the Kenyan diaspora to the country's development goes beyond personal remittances to include increased trade links, better access to foreign capital markets, skills and technology transfer, diaspora investment funds, knowledge exchange among others enormous potential benefits," the MP said in his notice of the motion.

"Cognizant that Kenya has an obligation to counter challenges hindering the diaspora's contribution to national development, this House resolves that the government review and formulate a comprehensive policy and structure to harness the ever-increasing diaspora resources for national development."

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Nation

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.