In August 2011, I began writing for The Standard as a columnist and I have never missed a Saturday since! The next few articles serving as anniversary pieces will revisit some of the issues that remain unresolved and of great concern to us.
One of my first articles was about Affirmative Action and quotas for women about which I said was a matter of priority then; a year has passed and this matter of priority has not been resolved conclusively; we still don’t know how the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ( IEBC) plans to resolve gender imbalance in Parliament and County Assemblies.
This is because, Article 81 of the Constitution states that the electoral system must comply with and be able to produce for Kenyans elective public bodies with not more than two thirds of members of the same gender. Article 177(1) provides that a County Assembly shall consist of the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly is of the same gender.
This means that if Parliament and County Assemblies do not reflect this principle, they shall be illegally constituted. The provision dealing with the composition of County Assemblies allows for nomination under article 90 of the Constitution to guarantee the envisaged gender balance.
However, Articles 97 and 98 dealing with composition of the National Assembly and Senate respectively provide for special seats for women whose numbers do not guarantee the envisaged gender balance.
The Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet have proposed certain amendments to the Constitution to address this issue unsuccessfully. This issue needs resolving before we go for the elections.
In another commentary, I wrote about the constitutional and legal prohibition against State officers holding offices in political parties.
This means that people holding the Executive/State positions such as President, Prime Minister and the Cabinet, cannot hold positions in political parties. I mentioned that the Elections Act provides that a public officer should not be involved in the activities of any political party or candidate or act as an agent of a political party or even present himself or herself as a candidate in an election. Also, they should not publicly indicate support for or opposition against any party, side or candidate participating in an election.
A public officer, who violates this provision, commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both. We continue to witness violations of the Constitution and Elections Act with impunity.
There has been some tough talking from the IEBC but no action taken. The same scenario applies to political campaigning outside the official campaign period, which continues with impunity. We wait with bated breath for action to be taken against those eying elective posts that participate in harambees in the next seven months.
I wrote that all public officers must resign their positions at least seven months before elections according to the law as it was then. A group of litigants tried having the court to reduce the period to three months unsuccessfully. MPs reduced the period to at least six months.
Therefore, public servants must now resign by September 3, 2012, six months before the March 4, 2013, the election date, which the Court of Appeal confirmed in a majority ruling in July.