Ruto envoy nominees on the spot over integrity, lack of diplomatic knowledge

Sunday April 14 2024

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenyan President William Ruto’s nominees for the envoy posts have come under sharp criticism over lack of diplomatic knowledge, with some integrity having integrity issues.

Already, it has emerged the moral agency, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has taken issue with the nomination of three individuals who are being vetted by MPs.

The National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committee chaired by Mr Nelson Koech (Belgut) kicked off the suitability hearings last week and are expected to conclude the exercise this Friday.

However, ghosts of the past have come to haunt come of the individuals who have already been interviewed.

Read: Kenya new envoys pledge to address trade imbalance in Europe

Former Baringo speaker David Kiplagat Kerich found himself on the difficult spot when the vetting questioned his diplomatic knowhow and integrity concerns.


Mr Kerich, Kenya’s nominee for Kenya’s Washington DC, was at pains to explain how he will navigate his foreign assignment with integrity concerns and lack of diplomatic experience.

“You don’t have any diplomatic experience. You have not gotten any foreign relations experience, your knowledge of international relations is almost zero, you may be an accomplished lawyer but you are not a diplomatic,” “said Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan.

The committee also expressed doubt on the integrity of the nominee saying he is likely to face legal hurdles upon official appointment by the president.

Mr Kerich however defended himself saying his qualification as a lawyer will be handy in handling his new assignment if approved by the House.

“It is true I have never been a diplomat but the knowledge one requires to be a diplomat is already with me. I have the knowledge and the experience. My education as a lawyer, one of the subjects’ I learnt is public international law. I am not a stranger in diplomacy,” Mr Kerich told MPs.

On the issue of integrity, Mr Kerich argued that he is yet to be charged in any court, noting that the matter is facing the County Assembly Public Service board (CAPSB) as a whole and not himself as an individual.

“These allegations are affecting a whole board, the County Public Service Board in which I was a chair. It is not one-man show, not one person. I have not been investigated as an individual, it is the collective actions of the board,” Mr Kerich said.

Former Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi who is set for Kampala, Uganda as Kenya’s ambassador also had his problems facing the vetting panel.

Read: Kenya reverses policy on communication with embassies

A memo from the EACC before the committee indicated that Mr Maangi through a company was engaged in housing construction tender with National Housing Cooperation (NHC) and which is under probe.

The graft body had recommended that he be charged but DPP instead returned the file ordering further investigations.

“A recommendation to charge Joash Arthur Maangi and other persons was made in a matter relating to the NHC housing project to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP returned the file to EACC for further investigations which are ongoing,” the memo reads in part.

The Commission memorandum to the committee is contesting the payment to the company for housing units in Langata in the 2010 case that is still under probe.

Mr Hassan questioned why Mr Maangi would accept the nomination for the foreign mission assignment when he has a graft case hanging over his head.

“The chair mentioned that EACC is investigation you, you are under investigation. A dark cloud is hanging over you. Would it not be better for you and your country that you stand aside and clear your name?” Yusuf asked.

Maangi admitted being a director at the said firm, arguing that the company is a legal entity and if anyone is to be found culpable then it is the company’s chief executive officer and the managing director.

“I am 100 per cent sure that I am innocent, this was a witch-hunt. I am confident I am a good citizen and ready to take up my assignment,” he defended himself.

Outgoing East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary General and Moscow(Russia) nominee Peter Mathuki was on Monday also taken to task over his perceived demotion through the nomination.

“The question that begs from where I sit, I feel like you are being demoted even after having worked so hard. Do you think that going to Moscow is a demotion? Asked Kinangop MP Kwenya Thuku.

Mr Mathuki however downplayed the demotion saying as a servant of the people, he is ready to serve anywhere.

Read: Why EAC boss Peter Mathuki has to go

“I wouldn’t want to call that a demotion. I want to call that a privilege and honour and if that is coming from the Head of State of the Republic of Kenya and for some reasons in his own wisdom, in his own ways, he feels that the energy should be taken elsewhere and for the agenda of the country.” Mr Mathuki told the committee.

The committee also considered the suitability of Jessica Gakinya who has been nominated to serve as the first ambassador to Rabat, Morocco.

Ms Gakinya who is a graduate of sociology and communications told the lawmakers that if her nomination is approved by the House, her first assignment will be to encourage investors from the Kingdom of Morocco to establish a fertiliser factory in Kenya, facilitating easier access to essential agricultural products for Kenyan farmers.

“The people of the Kingdom of Morocco are consumers of green tea. I will partner with stakeholders and market Kenya's green tea and coffee, taking advantage of Africa Continental free trade area and utilize the Ports of Tangier and Mombasa,” Ms Gakinya said.

For the second week running, the Committee has been vetting President William Ruto’s envoy nominees ahead the plenary approval and subsequent dispatched to commence their tour of duty. 

The committee is expected to conclude the vetting exercise on Thursday, retreat for its report writing over the weekend with a report expected before the floor of the House on Tuesday afternoon.

The MPs  were however taken aback by former West Mugirango MP Vincent Kemosi decision to reject nomination as High Commissioner to Ghana, citing personal and compelling family matters.

Mr Kemosi who was scheduled to appear before the committee on Tuesday morning but did not show up but instead wrote a letter declining the invite and taking up the job offered to him by Dr Ruto.

The committee chairperson informed members that Mr Kemosi had written to the committee through the Clerk of the National Assembly turning down the invite to appear before the committee for vetting.

Read: Kenya foreign policy shift clips minister’s wings

 “In brief, he has declined his nomination as Ambassador to Accra, Ghana,” Mr Koech said.

In his letter, Mr Kemosi said he does not want to waste the time of the committee as he has family compelling reasons.

"I will not appear before the said committee at the time and venue specified for the approval hearing. This has been occasioned by personal and compelling family matters which after taking into consideration will not allow me to take up the position of High Commissioner to Ghana as nominated by His Excellency on March 9, 2024," Mr Kemosi stated in the letter.

"Therefore to save precious time for other important parliamentary business, kindly note this letter serves as a notice not to appear," he added.

The Nation has however learnt that the former lawmaker is still harbouring political ambitions hence going to Ghana will interfere with his support base on the ground as he will not be in touch with the supporters.

Six years ago, retired president Uhuru Kenyatta’s advisor Abdikadir Moahmmed turned down an ambassadorial appointment.

Mr Mohamed, the former Mandera Central MP and the then Mr Kenyatta’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs advisor, politely declined to take up his new posting as Kenya’s ambassador to South Korea.

This is second envoy nomination rejection under the new constitution, in fact, the joke in the corridors of power is that you don’t reject presidential appointments.