, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – Questions are now being raised over allegations of a conflict of interest in the conduct of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee which is investigating alleged bias in diplomatic appointments.
Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wonder why action was never taken following a letter written by former Minister Moses Wetangula detailing a list of complaints against the chairman of the committee including coercion to appoint preferred associates.
“The Minister wrote a letter to the Speaker on May 25, 2010 asking for an investigation but we are questioning why no action was taken,” an official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
The letter by Mr Wetangula had wanted the Speaker to investigate Adan Keynan over “transgressions, harassment, attempts at extortion and outright intimidation through unorthodox behavior.”
He added: This includes monetary demands, interference in running the ministry including to have the chairman’s relations proposed for appointments (to diplomatic missions).
The committee is currently investigating the alleged improper appointment of diplomatic staff which the officials feels should not proceed until the perceived conflict of interest is investigated.
It’s understood that the letter may have been withdrawn at the height of the debate on the report on the sale of Kenyan embassies abroad.
The committee on Monday questioned The Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura over the appointments following claims that politicians were using it to reward political associates.
The committee accused the government of basing the appointment of ambassadors to Kenya’s 51 diplomatic missions on nepotism, tribalism and political patronage.
However, Mr Muthaura has defended the appointments saying they were done on merit.
“Appointments in the Foreign Service are not haphazard, this is serious business carried out by the Public Service Commission,” said Mr Muthaura.
Acting Foreign Affairs PS Peter Wamoto also defended political appointees as country representatives arguing that due to their exposure to public life, they are best placed to market Kenya abroad.
Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno who also attended the meeting said it cost the country up to Sh2 million a month to maintain one foreign attaché overseas and therefore the issue of cost was paramount.
Mr Muthaura said the government’s policy was meant to ensure efficiency in the foreign missions. He said the staff is recalled from missions abroad because of “indiscipline, underperformance and other administrative reasons.”