MPs reject nomination of Charles Githinji as consul general for Goma

Goma, DRC Consular-General Nominee Charles Githinji Keiru during his vetting process before the National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee at County Hall, Nairobi on April 11, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The National Assembly committee on Defence and Foreign relations on Tuesday rejected the nomination of Charles Githinji Kiiru as the Consul General for Goma, DRC.

The development came just days after the House team expressed concerns over the suitability of the nominee who failed to demonstrate the required competencies during vetting.

“…That the House rejects the appointment of Charles Githinji Kiiru as the Consular General for Goma,” committee chair Nelson Koech told the House during the tabling of the vetting report.

The chairperson however recommended the approval of all the other 26 nominees for the envoys positions.

During the vetting of Githinji last week, members of the committee felt that he lacked the gravitas to propel him onto the international stage as an envoy. His presentation of a Form Four certificate and a driving license as credentials during vetting piqued the interest of the committee.

Despite the fact that a degree or diploma is not mandatory for an ambassadorial role, the committee was concerned over his suitability and throughout the session questioned him on what they termed as “lack of ambition.”

This, after Githinji, during questioning, failed to give the meaning of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and claimed that Malawi bordered the DRC. He also unsatisfactorily failed to explain the role of a consular-general and what his tasks would be if given the nod.

Inconsistencies on his net worth –which he claimed to be Sh19 million but indicated as Sh9 million on his submission documents- also put him at loggerheads with the House team.

The committee was also taken aback on learning that despite having enrolled for college in Kasarani, Githinji did not complete the same after it emerged that the institution had not been certified by the government.

"It is very disappointing that given an opportunity to come before this committee, you did absolutely nothing, from filling out the documentation to responding to questions from honourable members, and it is becoming extremely difficult to interview you," Koech said.

Committee vice chair Elijah Memusi said: "This position has a lot of competencies required which you are not demonstrating…if approved, you’d be dealing with PhD holders and I feel academically, you would be a dwarf.”

But in his defense, Githinji said he would endeavor to go back to school and acquire the requisite skills for the position.

“I’m a believer of learning, once approved by this committee I intend on attending school at the Foreign Affairs Academy and learn more,” he submitted.

On the flipside, the committee heaped praise on Kenya’s ambassador nominee to Morocco Jessica Muthoni Gakinya, during vetting.

Gakinya, who is a Business Development Manager at Safaricom, articulated her intentions to market Kenya as an investment destination; she submitted that her first move would be to lobby the Kingdom of Morocco for the establishment of a fertilizer factory in Kenya which would facilitate ease of access to agricultural products for Kenyan farmers.

“The people of the Kingdom of Morocco are consumers of green tea. I will partner with stakeholders and market Kenya's green tea and coffee, taking advantage of Africa's Continental free trade area and utilizing the Ports of Tangier and Mombasa,” she said.

“Morocco's population also takes coffee. They get their coffee from Indonesia and Vietnam, and with the AfCFTA, I will very much encourage Morocco to source their coffee from Kenya,” she added.

Koech lauded Muthoni’s presentation and complimented her for having done her due diligence as far as the vetting was concerned.

“I am not approving of you but you’re the first nominee to appear having thoroughly researched and understood the intricacies of the host country,” he said.

Kenneth Milimo Ng'ang'a, nominee for the ambassador to Abu Dhabi, was however not extended to the same grace as Muthoni. 

The committee pointed out his lack of knowledge about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after he referred to Dubai as UAE’s capital.

Milimo is a former Bungoma South Kenya National Union of Teachers official.

Kenya’s High Commissioner nominee to Zambia, Lilian Tomitom also had an interesting “run in” with the vetting committee. She was questioned on Kenya’s relationship with Zambia, how to strengthen ties and how she would protect the country’s interests.

On the relationship between Kenya and Zambia she said, “I know Zambia is a former British colony which is the same Kenya. They also share a similar ugali name which is sima in Kenya and nsima in Zambia.”

She promised to look up and implement more ways to strengthen Kenya’s agricultural ties with Zambia if approved.

The House is now set to debate the report and will choose to either agree with the committee's recommendations or reject the report in its entirety.