Kenyan-American Mwende Mwinzi lands that contentious ambassadorial job
In June, there was a heated debate in the National Assembly which culminated in the approval of seven individuals nominated as ambassadors, paving the way for their formal appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But one nominee Mwende Mwinzi (Seoul, South Korea) caught everyone’s attention because she holds dual citizenship.
Ms Mwende Mwinzi, who is married to a Nigerian, carries both Kenyan and American passports.
Article 78 (2) of the constitution on citizenship and leadership says that a state officer shall not hold dual citizenship. Ambassadors are state officers.
On Monday, she was approved to be an Ambassador leaving the question of how it happened.
Upon appointment, an individual must renounce their second citizenship before taking up the job.
Ms Mwinzi thus has to renounce her US citizenship after formal appointment so that she does not break the law.
The report by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, that was tabled in the House after the debate recommended that Ms Mwinzi choose between her US citizenship and the Kenyan job.
Majority leader Aden Duale said Ms Mwinzi should follow the dictates of the Leadership and Integrity Act.
The only categories of people excused from the requirement are judges and members of commissions; or “any person who has been made a citizen of another country by operation of that country’s law, without ability to opt out”. It is not clear if Ms Mwinzi falls in the latter category.
It is still left to know if she renounced one of her citizenship or not as she reports to Seoul in a few weeks.
On Friday, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amb. Monica Juma presided over the conclusion of the induction course for the cohort of Ambassadors appointed in July 2019.
“I can proudly confirm the readiness of all 34 Ambassador and High Commissioner Designates to pursue, promote and protect Kenya’s national interests across the world,” she said.
The CS said 12 women graduated in this cohort of Ambassadors and High Commissioner Designate in line with the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s commitment to the women empowerment agenda.
Ms Mwinzi was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a Kenyan father and an American mother and is married to a Nigerian citizen.