Foreign Affairs CS Mutua defends transfer of docket's mandate


When Deputy President Rigathi Gachaguamet with Cabinet Secretaries among them Foreign Affair's Alfred Mutua. [DPCS]

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua has said a directive to international organisations and diplomatic missions to engage directly with line ministries was aimed at reducing bureaucracy.

Dr Mutua clarified that the ministry has not vacated its key roles of being the coordinator and implementer of foreign policy rather this directive enhances his docket's role with other ministries furnishing it with a report three days after their respective engagements.

The CS who appeared before the National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee in Nairobi yesterday, said allowing diplomatic missions to directly deal with line ministries is consistent with the need to foster efficiency.

“The various diplomatic and consular missions, as well as United Nations agencies and international organisations based in Nairobi, have time and again decried slow responses from various ministries, state departments and government agencies,” he said.

He told the committee chaired by Belgut MP Nelson Koech that the directive of President William Ruto in the organisation and running of government affairs, has been to cut bureaucracy.

He explained that owing to the nature and global context of some inquiries by the diplomatic missions, swift responses become essential in foreign relations.

“The emphasis is only in the communication aspect between the various ministries and missions while conduct, coordination and implementation of Kenya's foreign policy remains squarely within the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs,” he said.

Mutua argued that while most states appreciate the spirit and letter of Article 41(2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) however in practice, majority allow some form of direct contact with various ministries and state departments.

He said this is especially due to technological advances in modern telecommunication and ICT systems through WhatsApp, texts, direct messaging, Twitter, greater mobility due to advances in travel, in addition to an increasingly interdependent global economy.

“Philosophically, this is also about the values and principles that we hold as a country. Kenya is not a closed, controlled society, we are a modern state, with modern and tested institutions that allow us to conduct business in the most effective and practical manner,” said Mutua.

The CS told the committee that the President is the country's Chief Diplomat and upon assumption of office he ordered a review of Kenya's foreign policy in line with the Kenya Kwanza Administration's bottom-up economic model to governance.

Mutua noted that Executive order number one of January assigned functions to the Office of the Deputy President among them to co-ordinate the planning and supervise the implementation of development partners' funded programs and projects

He said that the ministry has actively ensured Kenya's effective representation at various global forums with the President holding high level bilateral engagements with the leadership of the European Union, Italy, Eritrea, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Burundi, South Sudan, Spain, Senegal and South Korea.

“The primary focus of the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs has been to leverage Kenya's foreign policy pillars to advance our foreign policy objectives, these includes securing enhanced market access for Kenyan products, scholarships for education and capacity building, technology transfer and employment opportunities for Kenyans,” said Mutua.

He said the government continues to champion peace and security initiatives especially in the Horn of Africa and the Eastern part of the DRC, with the efforts enhancing Kenya's credentials as a regional anchor state and guarantor of peace and security in the region.