Sunday, August 17, 2014

KENYANS EXPECT UHURU KENYATTA'S DIPLOMATIC APPOINTEES TO DELIVER

I am now convinced. It doesn't matter who President Uhuru Kenyatta appoints to top positions in his Government the reaction from his critics would be the same.

This week, the Kenyan leader announced the much-awaited changes in the Diplomatic Service. Within minutes, social media platforms were awash with criticisms of the appointments. Some dubbed them tribal while others insinuated that they were meant to dilute the raging referendum debate. Yet more lampooned the President for including on the list political "losers" and "retirees," as if those individuals are not Kenyans.

Such criticisms are expected considering the seniority of the positions and the high stakes involved. My feeling however is that the President did much better this time around in terms of spreading the appointments across geographical lines than he did when he chose his Cabinet and appointed Principal Secretaries last year.

He must have taken into account criticisms widely expressed in the media that the Jubilee leadership was insensitive to the feelings of Kenyans on matters of government selections, and that the country was heading backwards towards the days of his predecessors when nepotism and ethnicity were rampant.

The fact that he listened to Kenyans' wishes is commendable.

We must appreciate, however, that Kenya is a nation of forty-two tribes. We cannot expect each one of these and their many sub-tribes to be represented every time senior government appointments are made. That is impossible. What the government should be expected to do is to embrace the spirit of inclusivity, adhere to the Constitution and give as many communities as possible a chance to serve.

Although the battle now shifts to Parliament where each one of the appointees will undergo vetting as per the requirements of the Constitution, I am convinced that all will pass. My only request is for Parliament to expedite the clearance process  - and not drag it unnecessarily - so that the nominees can report to their stations as soon as possible. Some of the positions have been vacant for a fairly long period of time and require immediate occupation.

Kenya's foreign policy has been evolving since the early days of independence when the primary focus was on politics: non-alignment and non-interference in other countries' affairs. Now, Kenya's presence in the international arena is more than political diplomacy. It is on tangible economic results brought about by hard-nosed diplomacy.

The people selected this past week to represent us abroad are qualified individuals with knowledge of their country and its needs; and skills to make things happen for Kenya.

We can only wish them well.

And that is my say.