, NAIROBI, Kenya June 12 – National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale touched a raw nerve with Women Representatives after he hinted that they are “endangered species” if the looming referendum is ‘okayed’ by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The Wafula Chebukati-led commission is currently verifying signatures collected by the Third-way Alliance Party Leader, Ekuru Aukot who is rooting for a constitutional change and one of the many proposals he is fronting is the abolition of the Women Representatives seats citing the move would help in curbing the country’s bloated wage bill.
Duale said when the poll agency concludes the exercise and gives indications that Kenyans will be heading to a referendum, then all the 47 Women Representatives will be sent packing.
“There is a referendum coming and these women should be worried because Women Representatives according to the signatures which are being verified they are endangered species,” he said on Wednesday on the floor of the House during the final debate on the report of the Budget and Appropriations Committee amid booing from the Women lawmakers who were present during the session.
The poll agency is expected to conclude the verification exercise on Friday, June 14.
Duale’s remarks were triggered by Baringo Woman Representative Gladwell Cheruiyot who rebuked his (Duale) earlier observation that former President Daniel Arap Moi had served for 24 years and that leaders drawn from the larger Rift valley region should not lament about development issues and instead allow those who have not produced a President to do so.
In what appeared to turn confrontational, Cheruiyot rose on a point of order and told off Duale that “Moi was not a President of Baringo” sentiments which were backed by Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut.
“Leader of Majority I want you to withdraw with speed. President Moi was a great states man of this country, we must respect him because he did great things in this nation,” he said.
The Garissa Township MP could however, not bend to their demands, insisting that the Women Representatives should be a worried lot and advised that they to think of Plan B.
“It is only in this chamber that and I have been around for 13 years now. This is where as a legislator one gets to exercise free thought and nobody can stop anyone. We are only waiting for the signatures to be verified whether they liken it or not they should be worried if the signatures get to be authentic,” he said.
He added: “When verified, the Bill will be taken to counties and after it is approved there, it will then be forwarded in the National Assembly upon which I am sure it will receive the backing of majority of the MPs.”
Samburu West West MP Naisula Lesuuda also took a swipe at Duale asking him not to preempt the matter and instead allow the Women MPs to work in peace.
“The issue of referendum is not before this House and I think it is not in order for Duale to purport that Women holding those positions are endangered species,” she said.
Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi intervention to salvage the situation did not bear any fruit, prompting Duale to further intimate that he will lead some of his colleagues in drafting questions to also have the Senate scrapped, remarks that are yet again set to rekindle the supremacy war between the National Assembly and the Senate.
“I realize there is a lot of sensitivity in this issue but having heard the Leader of Majority very keenly, he said there is a very high possibility that the seats will be scrapped,’ Cheboi said.
Since the inception of the new constitution, there has been debate on whether the position of Women Representatives is really essential, often being criticized by their male counterparts who hold that they should be abolished.