EQUALITY

Gender parity rattles boy-child

Tokenism should not be the lot of the majority.

In Summary
  • The majority have always suffered exploitation from this domineering male, machismo-flaunting minority.
  • The constitutional one-third requirement isn’t good enough for women. Affirmative action has not been good enough because it rides on the whims of insecure men.

There is a consistent message from Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. The sound of it should worry men who nurse presidential and gubernatorial ambitions. This is the call for ‘alternative gender’ in elective offices.

This would be a shift from the conventional: If the presidential candidate is a man, the running-mate should be a woman. If the candidate is a woman, the running-mate should be a man. The same goes for prime minister, governor, speaker, majority leader and other county legislative and executive offices.

Deliberate gender parity should redefine power relations between men and women. After all, the Building Bridges Initiative seeks to unite the country.

The ambitious boy-child, with eyes on the presidency, would be disappointed if the voices for gender parity gain traction. And it’s likely if a critical mass of women, who are the majority voters, and reasonable men, stand on the side of right. Better still, the times call for political correctness.

Tokenism should not be the lot of this majority when they should be transforming public governance. The majority have always suffered exploitation from this domineering male, machismo-flaunting minority. The constitutional one-third requirement isn’t good enough for women. Affirmative action has not been good enough because it rides on the whims of insecure men.

This would be a shift from the conventional: If the presidential candidate is a man, the running-mate should be a woman. If the candidate is a woman, the running-mate should be a man. The same goes for prime minister, governor, speaker, majority leader and other county legislative and executive offices.

Men of influence have always abused this power. Parliamentary, senatorial and county assembly nominations have not always gone to deserving women. In some case, the beneficiaries have been relatives or consorts of men of influence. The positioning of women in elective office, as Waiguru and others advocate, through BBI, should be competitive, strategic and deliberate. It should be a merit-driven, pre-election agreement.

This should rattle ambitious boy-child, especially those from Central, where some men showed early interest in running-mates slots. The excitement was high when Deputy President William Ruto appeared the most likely successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Someone from Central, the President’s turf, looked like the logical pick for a running-mate. The region, long addicted to power, would concede the presidency for the second slot. But the possibility of the Jubilee juggernaut riding on dwindles daily, as the President and the DP pull farther apart.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi were cited as possible presidential running-mates. Gatundu North MP Moses Kuria, he of deceptive populism, saw himself in the cast.  Others were former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, and Agriculture CS Peter Munya.

Call for gender parity diminishes the possibility of these men taking the position. Kindiki cooled down after reading the signs of the times. But hope is not lost. Querulous Kuria can still run his presidential kiosk by picking a female running-mate. He could try Kilifi MP Aisha Jumwa. They make a voluble pair.

In May 2019, Governor Waiguru was a high premium bride in the 2022 succession stakes. She said then two presidential aspirants had given her a running-mate offer. One of the courters may have been the Deputy President, who was then enjoying a lonely presidential succession campaign.

Ruto is no longer Uhuru’s automatic successor. Waiguru may not be his potential bride. But the DP can try wooing former Gichugu MP Martha Karua as a running-mate. She could be game for the uncertain, rough ride ahead. The earlier they gel the better because this BBI rave has muddled the succession equation.

But Waiguru still stands out as running-mate material. The Kirinyaga governor, a woman of high breeding, is smart, educated, lady-like and presidential. Her consistent support for BBI, and the President, the kingpin of Central Kenya, mark her out as a leader to watch in the Uhuru succession.