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Secret appointments

Updated Fri, April 30th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3


When last October Government posted diplomats to missions abroad, there was uproar because most of them were either relatives of senior politicians or election losers.

State officials are at it again and the secrecy this time round is higher than before and style of appointment and induction of the lucky few more questionable.

For a start, our enquiries found out, only about five senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could be privy to what is going on, the full list, as well as destination of the lucky lot and fate of those recalled. It turned out Government is training 14 people who will soon be posted to embassies abroad, through an arrangement with a local university that hosts an institute of diplomacy.

Our sources, whose request for anonymity we respect because they were not cleared to speak on the appointments, said only Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi know the details of the upcoming postings.

It is believed President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are the other two people in Government in the know.

The confidential sources in Government revealed some of those undergoing training for posting include Dave Arunga, a former personal assistant to Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Constitution of Kenya Review Commissioner Nancy Barasa, a respected lawyer, who is said to command professional respect from Wetangula; and Ken Osinde, a senior official at the College of Insurance. He was also at one time a member of former Cabinet Simeon Nyachae’s think-tank. Also said to have clinched one of the slots is Peter Salim Ndemo, a retired Public Service Commissioner said to be related to Information PS Bitange Ndemo.

Bonding session

It is was, however, not clear if the senior politicians and State officials against whose names their appointment were being bandied, played any role in their appointments.

The sources revealed the identity of those being trained was a closely guarded secret. So much that even senior officials invited to their induction, which first started in a Nairobi hotel before moving to Mombasa this week, were not aware who they were going to meet.

Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula.

Part of the excursion outside Nairobi usually is to allow bonding and getting them to know their country better, but in this case they are in a formal workshop whose hallmark is also secrecy and privacy.

Little is said about how they were selected, where they are headed, and their special kills. It is believed their appointments were patterned along an agreement between the President and Prime Minister’s office that at least half of the envoys must be career diplomats and the other lot political appointees.

Several career diplomats — including Benson Ogutu, Josephine Owuor, Anthony Andanje, Anthony Muchiri, Bill Kimaru, Josephine Ngeisa and Karimi Kaberia — could also be headed for foreign missions.

The envoys are said to be awaiting President Kibaki’s return from China before they get their appointment letters and official send off.

The new envoys are set to replace 14 ambassadors who were recalled recently. Over 115 junior staff were also recalled from missions abroad, but it was not clear if their positions have been filled or how it would be done.

No response

Efforts to get official comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed. Even after being called and sent electronic messages, Wetangula and Thuita did not respond.

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