22 February 2013

Kenya: Elect Women to Avoid Nominations to Fill Gender Rule

Nairobi — The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has pleaded with Kenyans to elect women as their County Ward Representatives.

Commission chairman Micah Cheserem says this will help stem the hefty wage bill county governments are bound to incur if gender parity is not achieved in county assemblies.

"If we don't elect a third women in our County Assemblies the money which is supposed to go to development will be used for wages so it is important women are elected so that we save money."

"Let me give you an example: If county A has 30 County Assembly Wards and you elect 30 men it means you have to nominate 15 women to comply with the law."

The Supreme Court ruled in December that Article 81 (b) of the constitution which states, "not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender," be progressively implemented.

Their ruling however exempted County Assemblies, because the constitution is clear on how gender parity will be achieved, applying only to the Senate and National Assembly.

Article 77 (2) reads, "A county assembly consists of the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender."

Cheserem says the addition of special seats for women is already inevitable given the low number of women who are vying for County Assembly membership nationally.

"We need about 500 women elected into County Assemblies nationally to meet the gender threshold and we have only about 200 vying."

In the event gender parity is not achieved in a County Assembly following the general election, parties will nominate additional members based on the number of their elected members according to 177 (2) of the constitution.

"Members contemplated in clause (1) (b) and (c) shall, in each case, be nominated by political parties in proportion to the seats received in that election in that county by each political party under paragraph (a) in accordance with Article 90."

Cheserem made the plea on Friday - the final day of a three day economic symposium on the transition to a devolved system of government hosted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Kenya (ICPAK).

ICPAK chairman Patrick Mtange echoed Cheserem's plea sounding the alarm on the fiscal implications of not meeting the gender parity threshold in County Assemblies.

"Be intelligent, save your county money that would go to a wage bill for it to go into the development of the county to enhance public service delivery by voting in the aspirants who are of female gender. That's the saving."

Nairobi county will receive the biggest revenue allocation of the 47 counties and will receive close to half a billion following the general election for the four months preceding the 2013/1014 fiscal year.

Mtange also shared the concern expressed by Charles Nyachae, the Chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, on Wednesday that it will be difficult for County Assemblies to police the activities of the governor after the requirement that they hold post-secondary qualifications was removed from the Elections Act 2012.

"ICPAK urges the Transitional Authority to implement a competence development framework for members of the county assembly to enable effective oversight and control over the affairs of the county government."

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