Kenya’s ambassador to the US Robinson Githae has denied claims of corruption in issuance of identity cards by the Kenyan embassy in Washington, DC.
The allegations are contained in social media post that widely circulated online over the weekend, touching off a heated debate among Kenyan diaspora.
The anonymous author of the post put Mr Githae at the centre of the alleged scandal, claiming he was abetting corruption at the embassy.
Through his handlers, the author claimed, Mr Githae was charging $150 (about Sh15,000) instead of the official fee of $45 (about Sh4,500) for an identity card.
Kenyans living in Kansas, the author added, are required to raise at least Sh1.6 million for the embassy staff to travel to the city to issue the vital documents on October 6 and 7.
While the Nation could not independently confirm claims of Sh15,000 charge, we established the amount being charged is higher than the stipulated Sh4,500.
In a recent drive carried out in Atlanta, for instance, many Kenyans were charged almost double the fee.
Applicants who protested and demanded an explanation were told that the rest of the money was “a service charge” of sorts.
Mr Githae says the extra charges are “associated with logistics” and go to people who have partnered with the embassy to register Kenyans in states far from Washington DC.
One such partner is a group called Kenyan Parents in USA, which led the Atlanta drive.
“The embassy does not have enough manpower to send out to different cities and that’s the reason we engage the services of other groups in specific cities,” Mr Githae told a Kenyan scholars’ conference in Atlanta on Saturday.
He said the corruption claims are baseless and are meant to besmirch the good reputation of the embassy.
“The information circulating around on social media has no basis in facts,” he said.
“The information has been manipulated to make it look like the embassy is charging more than it’s required when it comes to ID issuance but the reality is, the seemingly extra charges are those associated with logistics,” he said.
The envoy said that because the US is very vast, it costs between $700 (Sh70,000) and $800 (Sh80,000) per person to travel to Washington, DC to register for an ID and this huge cost has been a discouragement to the diaspora.
“In addition, there is a large number of diaspora who cannot travel to DC or even anywhere else as they lack travel papers,” Mr Githae told Kenya News Satellite
“It is our duty and responsibility to assist and help this group of Kenyan diaspora”.