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The hurdles in the way of the two thirds gender vote in parliament

By Jael Mboga | November 28th 2018 at 11:16:03 GMT +0300

National Assembly Majority Leader and sponsor of the gender bill Aden Duale. [Photo, File]

In the countdown to the vote on the two-thirds parliamentary representation gender bill today women should not celebrate too early.

Eight years and three attempts since the conversation started, Kiminini MP Didmus Baraza (Ford Kenya) alleges there is a plan to deny the House quorum so the bill can flop.

He says male lawmakers, who have the numbers and indeed the influence, will shoot down the debate faster than you can say "The nays have it."

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Lawyer Gitobu Imanyara has said there is no political will to pass the bill. If his statement is anything to go by, the male MPs, who have in the past said they support the gender bill, were only doing lip service.

But who is to blame? Lawmakers have behind the scenes intimated that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, as it stands, does not leave room for consultation.

The bill's sponsor and Majority Leader Aden Duale has been urged to open up processes to all Kenyans to improve women's numbers in House leadership.

The Duale Bill is proposing that the number of special seats be determined after the General Election and be shared out depending on the strength of political parties in Parliament.

 Former Justice and Legal Affairs committee chair Samuel Chepkonga's proposal to have the gender balance implemented progressively elicited sharp reactions from the Bill's proponents.

Baraza says opening a leeway to nominate female legislators will only bloat Parliament.

Such nominees will be accountable to the parties that nominate them, instead of the groups they represent, he argues.

 The Ford Kenya legislator adds that there is no clear formula and parties, which are hinged on popularity, will nominate undeserving people.

"Do not handpick people. That way their loyalty will be to the party," he said today.

Asked why men MPs do not want to pass the bill then later fix loopholes created by party nominations, the legislator said Kenyans should nominate who they want.

Reiterating that the MPs will shoot down the bill, Baraza said parliamentary structure should not be altered and political parties should not be accorded such power.

He said other means to increase women's numbers in Parliament should be explored instead of bloating the unwieldy parliament.

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Council of Governors Vice Chair Ann Waiguru, Kenya Women Parliamentary Association chairperson Wangui Ngirici and National Gender Equality Commission's Priscilla Nyokabi are among those pushing for the passage of the Bill. 

In 2012 the Attorney General filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking an advisory opinion on how to implement the gender principle.

The Supreme Court ruled that there were no concrete provisions to realise gender balance.

The court also gave a timeline of August 27, 2015 to have mechanisms that will actualise the two-thirds gender principle. Parliament, however, requested for an extension of the deadline by a year, which lapsed in 2016. ?

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