State firms grip on external communication
The circular to all PSs demands that official business with foreign governments and foreign missions be transacted through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“Several government circulars have been sent to remind of this valuable tool of advancing national interests, foreign policy, consolidating and protecting the gains made in engagements with foreign governments,” says the circular dated April 30, 2018.
Mr Kamau further demands that all appointments with diplomatic missions in the country be secured and communicated through his ministry, signalling that some heads of government agencies have been speaking to foreign governments directly.
The PS also says that a notification needs to be sent to the Foreign Affairs ministry whenever diplomatic missions seek appointments with other ministries, departments and government agencies.
Edwin Limo, the head of public communications at the ministry, however described the circular as routine communication.
“There have been cases where the departments and agencies held discussions without involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which means we cannot follow up or advise on such a matter. Our role is not to interfere or control the discussions but to provide guidance and to follow up,” said Mr Limo.
The circular also reaffirms the clause on all official foreign travel being processed through the ministry.
“This is to ensure that a proper brief is made available. It will also enable the Kenya mission accredited to the country being visited to assist in securing the necessary appointments and finalising the programme during the visit,” the circular says.
Mr Limo further added that the ministry provided essential background on Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and agreements signed with other countries, which is essential.
The circular comes nearly two years after the then Meru Governor Peter Munya caused a stir in diplomatic circles after he chose to open diplomatic talks with Somaliland, upsetting Somalia.
This is not the first time the government has put in place strict measures on dealings and travel of State officials to foreign countries. A previous circular to PSs and chief executives of State corporations demanded that they seek authorisation to travel abroad.
In September, a directive was issued indicating that no official was allowed to travel outside the country without authorisation by the President. The officials in reference include Cabinet secretaries, PSs and officers in ministries, chief executive officers of parastatals and their officers and directors of parastatals.
A past memo also stated that delegations led by Cabinet secretaries are limited to five officials while those led by PSs, parastatal chief executives and directors and commissioners of independent commissions would be limited to three.