Connect with us

General News

Duale’s gender bill flopped in House for being poorly drafted



In 2010, Kenyans participated in the first constitutional referendum since Independence and overwhelmingly voted in favour of the draft constitution.
However, most of them have since confessed that they did not understand the document before voting for it; they simply did because President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga convinced them to do it.

The duo did not mince words in comparing it to the American and South African constitutions. They, however, admitted that “20 per cent” of the proposed supreme law contained some contentious issues but that would be ironed out later.
The new Constitution is eight years old and it is apparent that Kenyans have learnt a key lesson: Voting for the draft blindly was a big blunder. The Constitution created a bloated two-tier system of governance at the national and county levels, which consumes a huge chunk of taxes.

The two-thirds gender rule proposed in the Constitution has also remained unresolved despite efforts by, mainly, women parliamentarians to have the necessary legislations enacted to operationalise it. Whenever it comes up for debate in Parliament, most of the male MPs express their reservations, arguing that, if passed, the new law would not further the course of public interest.
Of great concern is failure to come up with clear criteria on nomination. In the past, owners of political parties have dished out these seats to kin and cronies.

Many would have expected National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale to prepare a Bill that responded to such concerns. But he failed to do so and ended up presenting a poor draft that was rejected by MPs.
The minimum required to pass a Bill of this nature is 233 MPs but, on that day, more than half of them did not show up, prompting Duale to plead with the Speaker to postpone the vote for lack of quorum.
For me, Duale was just playing politics when he pushed for deferment until February. He said he will lobby the same MPs to pass the Bill; how does he expect to convince them to support it in its present form? They have already voiced their concerns and asked him to draft a new one.

When Dr Willy Mutunga was the Chief Justice, a petition seeking an advisory opinion on this matter was filed before the Supreme Court. The court declined to support the petitioner’s argument to dissolve Parliament. As such, the issues around gender parity should be implemented progressively.
I have no problem with affirmative action. However, that cannot be achieved by dishing out free seats to women.
The old constitution provided for 210 elected MPs and 12 nominated ones to represent special interest groups. Listening to ordinary Kenyans, the popular view is that we should revert to it.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga, Nairobi.