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Kenyan Diaspora dismiss a group claiming to speak on their behalf

By By Chris Wamalwa | May 23rd 2013

By Chris Wamalwa

NAIROBI, KENYA:  A section of Kenyan Diaspora civic advocacy groups are taking issue with a group  purporting to be developing a document  to guide the Diaspora engagement with the government.

In a robust discussion in the social media, different individuals and groups questioned the veracity of such initiatives arguing that any initiative aimed at bringing together the Diaspora and the government over anything without the input of the Diaspora was bound to amount to nothing.

“I love any effort revolving around forward progress as far as the Diaspora issues are concerned  but how can there be a retreat at some hotel to discuss our future relationship with the government without our involvement?” Questioned Peter Kerre, a Kenyan social activist living in New York.

It was reported in a section of the Kenyan media early in the week that a task force comprising officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, labour and national planning as well as representatives of the Kenya Federation of Employers and other stakeholders were in a three-day retreat at the Aberdare country club in Nyeri county where they were fine-tuning the document to guide Kenya on how to address the concerns of an estimated three million Kenyans living and working in the Diaspora. The reports indicated that the fine-tuned document is to be handed over to the cabinet for approval.

It was not immediately clear which groups were involved and what the document was all about. The Kenya government is currently holding the Diaspora policy paper that it was handed late last year that comprises comprehensive input from the Diaspora.

“These are imposters and fellows out to hijack the diaspora issue to use it for their own selfish ends. Forums to address the diaspora issues must be constituted by the Kenyans living and working in the diaspora and the various organizations to which they belong. We in the diaspora do not belong to the Federation of Kenyan Employees, our destinations do not fall under the ministry of labor, nor can the ministry of planning use our statistic for planning purposes”. Said Elijah Aradion O Magutu.

Agreeing with Magutu in a post on Facebook, Njeri Kariuki of Dallas, Texas said such people feel they could just set provisions governing the diaspora as they pleased. “This will definitely create some restrictions on what, when, how we intend to contribute to the country’s growth. How do you plan for a community in which you do not live in? How dare they think they can think for us?”

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Robinson Gichuhi, the proprietor of Diaspora Radio said there was a total disconnect between those who claim to be working for the diaspora in Kenya and those who actually live abroad. “The Ministry personnel are not sincere in their deliberations and instructions seem to be doctored. We are not being duly represented”. He said.

Even though their contribution to the development of the country through remittances has increased exponentially, their political contribution has continued to be ignored by a political leadership that does not seem to know what to do with their increasing influence.

Late last year, the door for political involvement was shut in the face at the last minute when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared that they will not be voting as granted in the constitution save for those within the East African Community. Majority of the Diaspora are still smarting from this let down and are therefore very sensitive to any initiative that claim to speak on their behalf without their involvement.  




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