Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire

Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire

In a move that would balloon the country?s wage bill, Mbarire is proposing that Kenyans should elect an extra woman MP in each county bringing their total number to 94 from the current 47 women representatives.

The proposal, if passed, would cure the gender rule puzzle in the upcoming general elections. The Constitution provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies should be of the same gender.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi yesterday confirmed the House leadership had met the women leaders and agreed on Mbarire?s proposal.

Muturi said the proposal is now before the Budget and Appropriations Committee chaired by Mbeere North MP Mutava Musyimi. ?I met with the women leaders and we agreed on a version of a bill similar to the one by the late Mutula Kilonzo one, of 2012 which failed to get the necessary support. It is up to the proponents to push it before the budget committee and the Treasury,? he said.

The budget committee is mandated by the Constitution to deal with any bill which is money-related and advise the House accordingly.

Mbarire said the proposal is the only route to adhere to the constitutional provision through a parliamentary initiative.

?We would also be required to go into party lists where parties will be required to have a greater number of women candidates and the zebra principle that will alternate men and women on the list of individuals slated for nomination by their respective parties in the House,? Mbarire said.

The constitutional amendment proposal is similar to that advanced by the late Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo who sought to amend articles 97 and 98 to remove the limit on the number of MPs in the National Assembly and the Senate.

But the crafting of a legislation to implement this provision has been a herculean task with constitutional experts and social commentators claiming it is too academic to be applied in the elective positions.

Delay implementation

Currently, there are 349 members of the National Assembly and 67 senators drawing a gross figure of over Sh1.2 million in salaries and other allowances not forgetting the mortgage and medical schemes they are entitled to, plus a retinue of supporting staff including bodyguards and drivers all funded by the taxpayer.

The proposal, if approved, would counter another bill of similar nature already tabled in the House by the Justice and Legal Affairs committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi). The Cabinet is expected to approve a constitutional bill to address the implementation of the gender rule and recommends that political parties be compelled to nominate a specified number of women candidates for elective seats.

The women MPs have been on the warpath with Chepkonga over his proposal to delay the realisation of the gender rule indefinitely.

Their anger is based on the realisation that the Chepkonga-led committee, ?unprocedurally ignored a proposal endorsed by a Technical Working Group (TWG) constituted by the Attorney General Githu Muigai to unlock the stalemate?.

The TWG recommended the lifting of article 177 and replacing it with articles 97 and 98 of the Constitution, similar to what Mutula had proposed before his bill was frustrated.

The proposal was successfully implemented at the county assemblies after the 2013 General Election.

By ROSELYNE OBALA and RAWLINGS OTIENO, The Standard

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