NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – Women parliamentarians have gone back to the drawing board to negotiate with different offices and stakeholders in a bid to come up with an amicable solution to the two-thirds gender rule row.
Speaking to journalists after holding a meeting with Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi over the matter, Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo and nominated Senator Agnes Zani said all was not lost, saying they intended to beat the August 27 deadline.
“We are going to have meeting with the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to present the options that we have. We know we are operating on very strict deadlines and with the looming deadline we are looking at a short term extension,” said the Mbita legislator.
The lawmakers insist the proposal by the Attorney General to defer the implementation of the gender rule by one year is not practical since by 2016, politicians will not be thinking about the two-thirds gender rule but rather campaigning in the hope to win the following year’s election.
“We may lose the boat if we push it to that date,” said Odhiambo.
They instead proposed a three-month extension if push came to shove.
The women under the umbrella of the Kenya Women parliamentarians (KEWOPA) will be backing Cecily Mbarire’s Constitution Amendment Bill which provides for a topping-up mechanism in the National Assembly where members are nominated proportionately on party lists from qualifying political parties to meet the gender threshold.
They also want to amend the Political Party’s Act and Elections Act to ensure that women who are nominated have gone through an elective process within their political parties.
“We have yet to make our final decision on which proposals we will take because we have several, we have meetings with stakeholders who will help us select a reasonable one, but this far, the Mbarire option is the best,” Odhiambo added.
“As the women leadership of this country, we are on course and we will cross this bridge soon.”
Nominated Senator Zani reiterated her colleague’s sentiments acknowledging the fact that women had yet to find their voice in parliament disputing statements that they failed to stand by one of their own, Secretary to the Cabinet nominee Monica Juma saying the odds were against them.
“The level of engagement has been good and we want to keep the pressure consistent so that we can beat the deadline. The two third has to be actualized but for this to be successful, we need to support women, empower them and socialize them so that they can contest for these positions,” said Zani.
Odhiambo defended the notion that women parliamentarians left Monica Juma to ‘hang dry’ (after her nomination as Secretary to the Cabinet was rejected), saying the women who voted in favour of the report did so for reasons best known to them and not because they were trying to weaken a fellow woman.
“It’s nothing about our 47 women not being correct, they were trying to be politicians, at times as women you have to play it dirty like the men in order to survive, if you don’t you will fall just like Nancy Baraza (former Deputy Chief Justice) and now Juma,” she said.
KEWOPA is set to hold a series of meeting next week with the Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro, the Attorney General, the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee among other stakeholders to fine tune their Bill which has already been forwarded to the Budget and Appropriations Committee since it is a money Bill.
The Budget Committee is mandated by law to review any law that will have financial implications on the country’s budget and after review will advice the House on how it will be dealt with.