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On November 10, 2015 Kenyans in California had the privilege to meet and hold discussions with five members of Kenya National Assembly Committee on Defense and Foreign Relations. This group was led by Kiambu member of Parliament Hon. Annah Nyokabi Gathecha. All but, one are youthful leaders educated in the United States and Canada which affords them better perspective of Diaspora’s concerns.

Among the areas of concern :

Kenya’s Global Image and how to salvage the Lost Glory. Kenyans at the meeting were concerned that the intensity of graft in Kenya has reached crescendo. It is not only giving Kenya a bad name internationally but, it is denying all types of services delivery to Kenyans, yet no action is taken by either the government, the Judiciary and even the Anticorruption Commission. The members of parliament were asked to immediately take action to make sure that there are adequate laws, Rules and Regulations in place to investigate, prosecute and jail those found guilty of the offence. Members of the diaspora volunteered and were promised to be given a chance to participate in review and contribution to legislation origination as stakeholders. They also requested the committee to introduce legislation in parliament that will create a 10-20 diaspora member commission or a cabinet level diaspora department to facilitate diaspora involvement in shaping the country’s future.

The plight of returning Kenyan professionals – Engineers, Pharmacists, Accountants and others. To this end, the Kenyans meeting in Los Angeles wondered why it took several years of such professionals attempting to practice their trade to no avail, while their foreign counterparts are allowed to practice as expatriates right away. The embers of parliament acknowledged the problem and said the issue was being addressed through legislation currently under review in parliament. They said the article can be seen at Kenyans gathered promised to follow up.

The broken Judicial System. Members of the diaspora expressed concern that justice in Kenya takes too long to be realized if at all. They requested the legislators to enact laws that places time limit to court cases involving matrimonial property so that such cases can be resolved quickly to enable families to move on with their lives. Examples of cases lasting 4-35 years were given.

Diaspora investments impacted by corruption: Diaspora members at the meeting expressed concern and asked the legislators to enact one standard rules governing construction activities and also apply anticorruption measures to this industry. Members of the diaspora said they

were losing money through unwarranted work stoppage by local officials who change requirements of a project just to be paid kitu kidogo.

Police taking rides in private flagged vehicles. There was concern that the police department is so rotten that they make rules as they go. Unwarranted roadblocks are erected to extort money from the public, failure to give the Sh. 50,000 they ask will lead you to a police detention and car impound for hours if not days as you face threat of going to court where charges end up different than what you were told at the time you were stopped. To this, the parliamentarians assured the diasporans that there are changes under way that involves Anticorruption official, a court clerk, and a police officer being involved in every traffic stoppage to insure that the police officer flags you for the right cause and does not touch the money.

Diaspora Bond: The diasporans gathered in Los Angeles requested the parliamentarians to consider issuance of a Diaspora Bond limited to Kenyans in diaspora. The bond would be similar to the one issued by Israel and India to their citizens abroad. It is believed that such a bond would give Kenyans abroad a stake in the economy as well as a sense of pride.

The committee on Defense and Foreign Relations members were happy with the discussions and promised to keep themselves engaged with the group members.

By Adoga K. for Diaspora Messenger

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