Economy

Women MPs vow to fight gender Bill collapse in court

suba

Suba MP John Mbadi (left) and Nyeri Women Representative Priscilla Nyokabi at a news conference on May 5, 2016. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA

Summary

  • Only 178 legislators out of the required 233 voted in support of proposed law.

Parliament risks being dissolved after failing to pass a constitutional Bill to implement the two-thirds gender rule. Women MPs have vowed to move to the court to seek direction following the collapse of the two-thirds gender principle.

The female lawmakers promised to fight to ensure realisation of the constitutional requirement that not more than two thirds of either gender should be represented in elective and appointive positions.

“The fight is not over until we get the two thirds representation. I assure you that we will pursue legal options. It will come back to the House for a vote in one way or the other,” MP Priscilla Nyokabi said after legislators failed for a second time to approve the law.

MPs failed to pass the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill which sought to implement the two thirds gender requirement. Only 178 MPs out of the required 233 voted in support of the Bill.

“The net effect is that the Bill is negative,” Speaker Justin Muturi ruled. The collapse of the Bill now paves the way for any Kenyan to move to court to initiate the process of dissolving Parliament for failing to pass the constitutionally timed Bill. The Supreme Court had issued an advisory opinion to Parliament to implement the two-thirds gender rule.

The Bill can only be introduced in the National Assembly after six months. The female MPs however said they will move to the Senate to initiate the process of passing the Bill.

The Constitution requires that a constitutional amendment Bill can only be approved by a two-thirds majority (233 MPs). Sixteen MPs voted against the Bill while 150 were absent when the vote was taken. There are 349 MPs in the House.

The Bill collapsed even after President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga rallied their troops to support its passage.

READ: The cost of naming more women MPs to meet gender rule

Mr Kenyatta issued a statement ahead of the vote urging MPs to turn up in large numbers to pass the Bill into law, in order for the country to comply with the constitutional provisions as stipulated in Articles 27(8) and 81(b) of the Constitution.

“Passage of the legislation will secure gender equity in government,” Mr Kenyatta said. Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria supported the collapse of the Bill saying it is in line with his intention to reduce the public wage bill.

“I want to really celebrate the fall of this Bill. This is in-line with my Punguza Mzigo initiative. We cannot have more than 500 people in Parliament. Time has come for us to have lean representation,” he said.

But Cecily Mbarire, who chairs the women caucus group (Kewopa), thanked men who stood with women and voted for the Bill. “It’s been a long walk and we have a long way to get where we need to be. I want to tell women not to give up.

“We will push the matter to the Senate for it to start a fresh process which will finally come back to the National Assembly,” the Runyenjes MP said. ODM chairman John Mbadi thanked the MPs who voted for the Bill.

“I am disappointed, we lobbied MPs but 150 decided to keep off the House. They have a responsibility to express their views one way or the other by voting,” he said.

TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja expressed disappointment saying women movements had put allot of efforts to attain the 178 votes.