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Crude MP Sankok remarks on women and gender Bill’s fate

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By Macharia Gaitho
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A video of Nominated MP David ole Sankok giving his bizarre views on selection criteria for women colleagues has been trending in the past week.

As the National Assembly gears up to vote on a controversial Bill intended to ensure compliance with constitutional requirements for gender parity in Parliament, Mr Sankok managed to muddy the waters with his ossified views.

From the hallowed Chambers of Parliament, he irked women MPs by suggesting that increasing the number of special seats to attain the two-thirds gender threshold would open the door for ‘Slay Queens’ to sleep their way into Parliament.

As if that was not enough, he was then recorded on video proposing a strange integrity test for women seeking nomination slots.

Mr Sankok’s proposal to disqualify single mothers with children from more than one man and of different ethnic groups drew widespread condemnation. The MP displayed a backward mindset that would subject women to a discriminatory and absolutely nonsensical test.

Before opening his mouth on integrity, perhaps Mr Sankok should have looked in the mirror. In Parliament he suggested that women earned nomination by dishing out favours, and was rightfully challenged on whether he also secured his slot in that manner. Then there is a simple matter of being a quack and charlatan.

The MP, who is also the chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, has in the past been exposed as a fraud.

Mr Sankok is known to have styled himself as a doctor and to have run clinics offering medical services, yet he has no qualifications to offer treatment of any kind.

He dishes out National Council for Persons with Disabilities calling cards fraudulently identifying himself as ‘Dr David ole Sankok — Medicine and Surgery (University of Nairobi)’, but he never undertook and completed medical studies at the university or any other institution.

The website of the organisation and the Kenya Gazette notice on his appointment to chair the state corporation also wrongfully carry the ‘Dr’ title with his name.

In 2016, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union disowned ‘Dr’ Sankok and dismissed him as a quack.

The MP retains an undeserved ‘Honourable’ moniker and has the guts to propose outrageous integrity tests for women while his own ethical and moral failings should disqualify him from leadership.

But this is Kenya. It is Mr Sankole, and many others of his ilk, who will be voting on whether Kenyan women will benefit from a law meant to ensure equality of representation in Parliament. Previous attempts to push through gender parity laws have flopped dismally in Parliament.

The latest initiative comes with strong support from President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, as well as Nasa coalition co-principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi.

That level of backing from leaders of all the main political parties would in most democracies ensure automatic passage of any legislation, but Kenya is not an ordinary democracy.

Kenyan legislators do not generally toe party lines, and if what we are witnessing so far is anything to by, it will be miracle if the gender Bill gets the required numbers.

Most may not be as crude as Mr Sankole, but the MPs opposing the Bill share with him contempt for women, especially in relation to affirmative action, positive discrimination, quotas or any other device for more balanced gender representation.

In this particular case, however, the Nays can latch onto strong public opposition to any proposal that would increase the number of MPs.

They will cite the need to reduce rather than increase the numbers, and play up public antipathy to the financial burden of excessive representation.

Of course that will be deeply dishonest and hypocritical. The parasitic MPs have absolutely no qualms about forever seeking to increase their own salaries, allowances and perks that already make them about the highest-paid legislators in the world.

They will also strongly reject any proposals reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies.

If as expected the MPs defy the President and other party leaders to shoot down the Bill, the next logical step will be for a clear gender balance mechanism to be included any constitutional referendum question.

That can be done alongside reducing a bloated Parliament, neatly achievable by simply shutting down the National Assembly and passing on its functions to the Senate. And while at it, we also need a constitutional bar against MPs having powers to set their own salaries.

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