NAIROBI, Kenya, May 6 – Confusion reigns over how to deal with the fast approaching deadline on implementation of the gender rule, as it emerged that the government is working on a counter proposal to one by a parliamentary committee.
The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee has tabled a Bill to amend the Constitution and push the deadline for an implementation framework, from August this year to an indefinite date.
This has elicited protests from women parliamentarians who have demanded that the proposed Bill be withdrawn, saying it is bent on violating the rights of women.
But committee chairman Samuel Chepkong’a while responding to another demand by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution to withdraw the Bill so that another can be brought to Parliament declined to recall it, insisting that it is the best option for the country.
“The Bill was considered by the Legal Affairs Committee and was unanimously adopted by the committee without reservations. It is therefore not sponsored by the Ainabkoi MP, and we do not intend at all to withdraw or abdicate that responsibility,” said Chepkong’a.
Speaking during a meeting bringing together the Constitutional Implementation Oversight committee (CIOC), the office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the Gender Commission, IEBC and several other members of the technical working group on the viable and preferred formula for achieving the two thirds gender rule, CIC stated that they were currently revising the proposals by the technical group and would present it to Cabinet by next week.
CIC chairman Charles Nyachae however raised concerns over the evident confusion brought about by the presence of two Bills concerning the same issue in Parliament insisting that the Bill tabled by Chepkong’a be withdrawn.
“We are reporting to you on this Bill we are processing yet a parliamentary committee is publishing a Bill on the same issue… This is awkward; I think it begins to show a lack of seriousness on our part. I think we are creating confusion,” said Nyachae
CIC then came under fire for what could be termed as ‘inefficiency’ after Imenti North MP Rahim Dawood questioned the reason why the commission waited until the last minute to want to present their opinion.
“I think CIC is blowing hot and cold on this issue, if they were serious, they should have come in earlier, they should not have waited this long until someone else does something,” he said.
However, Devolution CS Anne Waiguru revealed that the technical working group had already presented its proposal to CIC and once it was reviewed, she intimated that Cabinet would approve it as soon as possible to ensure the timelines of publishing are adhered to.
“It is now up to the CIC and the Kenya law reform to finalise with it and present it to the cabinet. Since we are the ones who submitted to them in the first place, I don’t see us delaying the Bill in any way,” she said.
Chepkong’a could however not disclose whether he had the support of his political party insisting that the process was legal and not political.
The Constitution has set a deadline of August 27 for the MPs to enact legislation stipulating how to ensure that no elective posts comprise more than one third of the same gender.
Some of the proposals flouted include the zoning of women into affirmative action seats, creation of special seats for women through the pairing of the constituencies to create 145 special seats and the encouragement of women to vie for the 290 slots so that more women are elected.
For the proposals that require an amendment by way of parliamentary initiative, the procedure would require a minimum of 90 days and would necessitate a two-third majority in parliament for it to be passed.
For these proposals to meet the August 27 deadline, the process of publication must have been initiated by April 30.