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Aden Duale, Rachel Shebesh clash over two-thirds gender rule

By Alphonce Shiundu | March 1st 2015

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale clashed with a member of the Speaker’s Panel when he dismissed as “a hot potato” the push to ensure a third of all MPs in the National Assembly are women.

In a meeting at Mombasa’s Serena Beach Hotel yesterday, Mr Duale (Garissa Township, URP) was confronted by Rachel Shebesh (Nairobi, TNA) when he said it was difficult to find a way to make sure at least one-third of all MPs in the House were women.

“It is good to make it clear that this matter was the hottest potato to hold in the last Parliament. (Former Justice minister) Mutula Kilonzo tried, he failed. When the matter became too hot and the elections were near, we threw the matter back to the Supreme Court. We better begin early, so that when it becomes very hot again, we know where to throw it,” said Duale. He reminded women MPs that it will be impossible for parties and the electoral commission to force Kenyans to elect women in their constituencies just so the constitutional gender threshold is met.

“That will not happen in Kenya,” said Duale.

The majority leader said the onus was on the National Gender and Equality Commission, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, the Attorney General and the committees of Parliament to make sure the formula exists.

This infuriated Shebesh, who told Duale to give a solution instead of scaring women from pushing for affirmative action. “I want to tell Duale and all the people who are saying it will be difficult to pass the two-thirds rule to give us a solution. Every time this issue comes out, people say it cannot happen. We are here in a leaders’ forum, this is not a Kamukunji of all MPs. You keep saying it is a hot potato, it is a hot potato, we know it is a hot potato, and it needs a solution. The least you can do is to give us a solution,” said Shebesh, who sits in the Speaker’s Panel, the clique that helps the Speaker run business.

The Supreme Court ruled that the realisation of the gender rule was progressive, but gave the House until August 27 – the fifth anniversary of the Constitution—to make a law to fulfill the requirement of clause 27 of the constitution which stipulates that no more than two thirds of public positions should be held by one gender.

Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri, TNA) argued that there is a need to open up nominations for 50 more women to Parliament.

At the moment there are 65 women in the National Assembly out of a membership of 350 members.

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