TWO-THIRDS MAXIMUM

Let BBI advise on gender rule

In Summary

• Last month the Chief Justice advised that Parliament should be dissolved because less than one-third of MPs are women

• Government is going slow on the advisory for fear that business will come to a halt without a legislature

President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report.
BBI: President Uhuru Kenyatta reads the BBI report.
Image: PSCU

Governor James Ongwae of Kisii has called for the dissolution of Parliament (see P29). Last month Chief Justice David Maraga advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament after six constitutional petitions over the two-thirds gender rule.

The President is right to go slow on Maraga's advisory ruling because dissolving Parliament would not solve anything.

In principle, most Kenyans agree that one-third of MPs should be women. But there is no guarantee that more women would be elected if there were fresh elections. More than two-thirds men could still be elected.

 

Even if one-third of every party's candidates were women (probably the best first step towards honouring the gender rule), that still would not ensure that one-third of MPs would be women. 

The only way to guarantee that one-third split would be a constitutional amendment to create extra seats exclusively for women. This would increase the size of an already bloated Parliament.

The BBI report should be made public this week. Let us hope that it tackles the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule. The country wants it but we need a sensible roadmap of how to achieve it.

Quote of the day: "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The English poet died on October 6, 1892