When MP vowed to kick women out of Jomo's office

Harambee House, housing the office of the president on Monday 19, May ,2014. [Tabitha Otwori, Standard]

There was drama in the second Parliament when an MP said he was going to sponsor a motion to ensure only men worked in the Office of the President.

Stephen Cheptai, who represented Baringo East Constituency, had sensationally claimed in the House that operations at the highest office in the land were being hampered by women too busy partying at the expense of attending to serious matters of the State.

While contributing to the financial vote for the OP in June 1972, Cheptai said men in that office had also been corrupted by the women to the point that when letters came from the provincial administration, they could not be attended to because "everybody seems to be busy attending to these women."

Cheptai said he was getting frustrated because whenever he went to the OP to check on the welfare of chiefs in his constituency, it took a long time for the officers to attend to him "because they were busy talking on the telephone with their girlfriends" within the office.

The honourable member accused the women at OP of jeopardising the country's security by hobnobbing with unknown characters in night clubs, yet, "they (women) are the same people who type confidential letters. They come to the office very late, and when they do so, they are always very tired and lazy after spending the night in clubs."

Cheptai, who by this time had irked several members who were rising to catch Speaker Fred Mati's eye, levelled more accusations against the women, claiming they had chosen to be entertained by white men and that such dalliance had the possibility of leaking confidential State matters to those men.

His solution? Bring a motion to the House aimed at kicking out the women and ensure only men are employed at OP "so that they can work perfectly." He said, "I oppose the idea of employing these women in the Office of the President, and whoever is in charge of this, even if it is the minister here, must take this opportunity and rectify the situation; otherwise I will lead a very strong delegation to President Kenyatta and ask him to remove (Mbiyu Koinange) from his post... Women should not be employed in the Office of the President at all."

While the Speaker said the MP seemed to have some "psychological fear of women," it was Nominated MP Jemima Gecaga who vowed to "deal" with Cheptai, saying, "he knew less than nothing." She not only defended the women working in the OP but urged the government to appoint them to higher positions and this came to pass years later.