Uhuru to meet Jubilee MPs over gender bill

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Source: Nation

The 12th Parliament could be dissolved if MPs do not enact the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2018, when the vote is taken on Wednesday next week.

It is emerging that President Uhuru Kenyatta is silently bearing pressure to the MPs to pass the long-overdue legislation or go through the ignominy of going back to the people to seek fresh mandate in line with the Constitution.

This comes against the backdrop of yet another behind-the-scenes silent war between the executive and Parliament over the enactment of the Parliamentary Service Commission Bill, 2018, which seeks to deny the Salaries and Remuneration Commission the power to determine the lawmakers’ terms and conditions of service.

CHILLING MESSAGE

The Nation has learnt that the President is set to deliver the chilling message when he hosts the yet to be confirmed Jubilee Party Parliamentary Group meeting at State House on Tuesday.

A source told the Nation that the President will issue a stark warning to the legislators; that they pass the Bill or go home.

It is also believed that he will use the meeting to declare that he will not assent to the Parliamentary Service Commission Bill, 2018, currently before the National Assembly.

“The President will be frank with the MPs. He is going to tell them to adopt the Bill. If they fail and he receives advice from the Chief Justice on the dissolution of Parliament, he will not hesitate to act. He will sign it. The MPs’ future is in their hands,” an aide of the President said Friday.

The President has already set the warpath.

On Tuesday, he rebuked leaders who always push for salary increase at the expense of Kenyans, urging them to prioritise the plight of Kenyans and not focus on their financial interests.

“With all due respect, everyone wants to live a good life, but before we as leaders live a good life, we should make sure that our people get the best,” he said. The statement angered the MPs, who have accused the President of playing to the gallery and setting them up against the public. With the President’s statement as an indicator of things to come, the MPs are already plotting their own reaction should he not give his assent.

They have planned to marshal numbers to torpedo the memorandum of objections that may accompany the bill should the President refuse to assent to it. It is partly because of this cat and mouse game between the two arms that the MPs this week prioritised the debate on the Bill ahead of the one on gender.

SPECIAL SEATS

The gender Bill seeks to amend Article 97 of the Constitution to create special seats for women, which will be filled by political parties depending on the parliamentary strength.

The President is pegging his hopes on last year’s High Court ruling on the matter to ensure MPs live up to the billing and enact the legislation that will see the two houses of Parliament get an extra 48 nominated women MPs.

In March last year, Justice John Mativo gave Parliament 60 days to enact the bill and warned that if the legislation would not have been effected as ordered, anyone can write to Chief Justice to advise the President to dissolve Parliament.

DISMISSED THREATS

But a section of the MPs have dismissed threats of dissolution and insisted they will throw out the bill.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said there must be a nomination procedure so that deserving cases are not sacrificed at the altar of political interests. Dr Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) opposed the bill, saying it is trying to solve a complex problem through a lazy legislation. However, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi ratcheted up his support for the bill, arguing that gender equality is not something to be negotiated for.

He said gender rule will be achieved through a referendum if the current bill fails.

“If it is not achieved now, I think when we should engage in national dialogue that may culminate in a referendum,” said Mr Mudavadi.

Reporting by Ibrahim Oruko, David Mwere and Ahmed Mohamed

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