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Parliament must pass crucial gender bill

By Daniel Waitere | Apr 27th 2016 | 3 min read

Today, all eyes will be glued to the 11th Parliament as one of the much-anticipated pieces of legislation awaits a critical vote.

The vote will see a framework for the realisation of the not more than Two-Thirds gender principle in the National Assembly and Senate established.

The operationalisation of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 4) Bill of 2015, if passed, commences after the 2017 elections.

The Constitution of Kenya amendment bill No 4 of 2015 seeks to provide for implementation mechanisms in the National Assembly and in the Senate similar to those in the county assemblies.

This is aimed at ensuring compliance with the not more than Two-Thirds gender principle in political representation.

This bill is necessary to avoid a constitutional crisis after 2017 election if one gender exceeds the Two-Thirds gender limit.
The bill is in its second reading. So far several Members of Parliament have voiced their support for the bill save for a few opposing it.

But this being a Constitution amendment bill, a minimum of 233 out of the 349 legislators are required to pass the all-important bill in a division of the National Assembly.

The crucial vote is scheduled for this week and is the ultimate make or break duel.

The bill is a product of almost two years of hard bargaining and consensus-building between State and non-state actors.

No other bill perhaps in post 2010 promulgation of the Constitution has seen the kind of input that this particular one has.

But what makes the Two-Thirds Gender Bill so crucial? One if it goes through, it will the first bill to amend the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

That will be a first.

Second, this particular legislation was cast in a definite timeline by the Supreme Court.

In December 2011, the Supreme Court delivered a majority decision that the realisation of the Two-Thirds gender principle under Article 81 (b) should be progressive.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court directed that Parliament was under an obligation to have a framework on realisation of the Two-Thirds Gender Rule by 27th August 2015.

Parliament voted to extend the deadline by another year lapsing on August 27, 2016. There will be far reaching consequences if this legislation is not passed.

The third reason that makes the Two-Thirds Gender Bill crucial is the pledge made both the governing Jubilee coalition and the Opposition, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

Both parties are agreed and have committed in their manifestos to ensure inclusion of special interests groups in political representation.

This is a promise they both made to the Kenyans and following through the commitment is an obligation they have no option but to deliver.

It is in the interest of both coalitions to close ranks and vote for this bill and live true to their promise.

The question is, will the public show of support of the bill translate into actual numbers required to pass the crucial bill?

The vote this week presents a perfect opportunity for a performance appraisal of Members of Parliament in their capacity and goodwill to walk the talk.

Wanjiku should seize this opportunity to hold their elected representative to account on their stand for this particular bill.

With an election year just around the corner, this one is a must-pass test for incumbent legislators who will be defending their seats.

Wanjiku must not shy in flashing the red card to those who disappoint.

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