With less than a year to the next general election in Kenya, there is a need to revisit the gender parity law in parliament. On 22 September 2020, the then President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Justice Maraga, was considered mad for his timely dissolution advisory to President Uhuru Kenyatta following what was termed as a failure by parliament in its mandate to enact the 2/3 gender rule. The National Assembly Speaker in defense of Members of Parliament regarded the move as misplaced with reasons being, among others, the mechanism to fully implement this law after dissolution is not provided for in the Kenyan Constitution and, also termed the state as a political community empowered to ensure that two-thirds of members of all elective and appointive positions are not of the same gender.
Fast forward to September 2021. What is being put in place to see to it that women are no longer relegated to the back door when it comes to leveling the playing field for female candidates with promising legislative capacities?
The 2022 polls have already heightened political temperatures across the country with alliances and coalitions popping up by the day. The place of a female vice president is relative as most parties are yet to settle on strong running-mates for the highly contested presidential race come August 2022. This however is a matter that is yet to hold water considering a day in Kenyan politics can make a whole lot of difference in a political race in its entirety.
When we look at Kenyan Politics at a glance, this not being the bone of contention for this writing, we are well accustomed to a game for the wealthy. In fact, according to a study by South Consulting Africa Limited, the cost of managing an election in Kenya was recorded to be one of the highest in the world at slightly above 2,500 Kenya shillings per voter. The study, funded by Westminister Foundation for Democracy and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy looked into the cost of politics in Kenya by analyzing the expenditure of candidates who contested for political offices at the Senate, National Assembly, and County Assembly level in Kenya in 2017. The well-detailed work starkly indicates how incredible spending by political aspirants carries the day for one wishing to secure a win. This has worked to the detriment of low-budget capable candidates, excluding them from making it to the party primaries let alone the general polls.
Women are said to spend even more than their male counterparts when it comes to seeking elections whether during party nominations or election campaigns. It will be relevant to note that candidates spend more on party primaries, depending on the popularity of the party, to secure a ticket than in the actual campaign period. The election cost, therefore, deters access to legislative posts for women to the greatest extent.
The Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2020 couldn’t have come at the right time. This move by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), will not only seek to increase the capacity, legitimacy, and credibility of a more inclusive democracy for all future aspirants, it will, by a large extent, I believe, help narrow the gender gap in the continuum of election spending. The amendment, among other changes, seeks to make provisions enabling the commission to regulate the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or political party, declare their sources and expenditure of their election campaigns mandatory. Failure to adhere to this campaign Financing act will attract a fine of up to Ksh.2 million or 5-years jail term to the offender. This however is a matter that is yet to be approved by the two Houses of Parliament come Tuesday with word already hinting of a possible shove of the proposed amendment bill by the IEBC in a bid to “cushion themselves”.
What are your thoughts concerning the move by parliamentarians to want to “cushion themselves” by not passing this Bill?
If the Bill were to be passed. Do you think commitment by politicians to implement this law will be practical?