Report attempts to prescribe cure for two-thirds gender rule quagmire in Parliament

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Chief Justice David Maraga. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The BBI final report has come up with recommendation aimed to cure the controversial two-third gender rule that threatens  dissolution of the two Houses of Parliament.

Chief Justice David Maraga has advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to wind up the life of the National  Assembly and the Senate after MPs  failed to pass legislation to ensure the two-thirds gender rule as demanded in the Constitution is enacted.

The issue has been the subject of litigation for almost a decade, with the courts consistently holding that parliament has an obligation to enact legislation to ensure its gender composition in both elective and appointive bodies is in line with the requirements laid out in the Constitution. 

To address the proposed amendment to the Constitution to have more women nominated to the National Assembly and Senate to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the memberships of the two Houses are of the same gender.

 Now the BBI report proposes  nomination of 43 female lawmakers to the National Assembly and 16 at the Senate and based on the number of votes received by a party instead of the number of elected leaders also provide for a “to up” to meet the requirement.

And according to the bill, Article 98 (1) which highlights  the membership of the Senate should be amended by adding another sub-clause (ba), indicating that “the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two thirds of the membership of the Senate are of the same gender.

“The bill proposes to amend Article 98 (Membership of the Senate) to provide for the nomination of the sixteen women members of the Senate on the basis of votes received by a political party rather than seats won.

The Bill also provides for the top-up of gender to implement seats to implement the two-third gender rule, “ reads the Bill in part.

Article 81 (b) of the Constitution reads that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender but this has never been actualised.

The National Assembly currently has 75 women — 22 elected from the 290 constituencies; six nominated from the 12 nomination slots; and 47 elected as Woman Reps.

The initial detailed BBI report has also suggested a raft of proposals aimed at guaranteeing gender equality, inclusivity and representation.

“Parties should be compelled through the Political Parties Act to be consistent with the Constitution to meet the gender rule and other Constitutional measures of inclusion through their party lists,” said the report.

This means party lists presented to Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) during elections must have 97 of 290 candidates vying for the MP seat as women, while 16 of 47 gubernatorial and senatorial candidates, must also be women.

In addition, of 1,450 candidates for the Member of County Assembly (MCAs) in the country, 483 should be women.

This is excluding the nominated slots in the National Assembly, Senate and County Assemblies.

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