NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Economists are warning that unless Kenya ensures the one-third gender requirement is attained at the ballot, it may cost the country over Sh2.5 billion more to run a bloated Parliament every year.
The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) says the best way to avoid additional costs is by ensuring at least 105 women are elected at the ballot, to avoid nominating extra people to fill up the gender deficit.
“If sufficient women are elected to satisfy the two-thirds requirement, zero seats would have to be added and therefore the cost would be zero,” read a report by the IEA.
IEA Research Officer Mark Marchant said a nominated MP would cost the Kenyan taxpayer Sh21.1 million annually while a Senator would require Sh31.3 million per year.
The economists joined calls for the implementation of the two thirds gender rule stating that although many were opposed to the increase in numbers of members of the August House due to financial implications, Kenya had the ability to pay the 100 extra legislators.
“Kenya has the largest economy and highest GDP per capita in East Africa, but it is the only country in the region yet establish an affirmative action programme for gender representation in Parliament,” said Marchant.
The researcher compared the cause to the highly celebrated Standard Gauge Railway whose phase one from Nairobi to Mombasa is estimated to cost about Sh327 billion insisting this could not even measure up to the Sh2.6 billion required to allow more women into positions of leadership.
Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo accused the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review for rejecting initial proposals to entrench the gender rule in the harmonized draft of the constitution which called for the bringing up of the number of women to one-third.
“This is a war that started from the Garden of Eden, we will not let go. I want to tell my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta that we were with you in Naivasha; stand to be counted. This is the moment the women of Kenya also need to stand to be counted,” she said.
READ: Women MPs plan own bill to quell gender rule row
Phoebe Asiyo one of Kenyans pioneer female parliamentarians who attended the meeting urged women to take up elective seats and not wait to be nominated.
“Ladies you must prepare and stand for elections, there is no way you are going to get there unless you do it. Get into those political parties and take control of them. Voters do not elect men and women, they elect good leaders and they will elect women. Let us put our best foot forward,” she said.
“The best campaign is the one that starts after elections; I think already we are late,”
She however supported the proposal to top up through nominations the number of women based on those elected adding that if more women vied in the past election they would have been elected.