President William Ruto now wants Members of Parliament to amend the Constitution and increase the number of nominated MPs in the bicameral Parliament.
In a letter addressed to speakers of the National Assembly and Senate on Friday, December 9, Ruto urged MPs to consider his proposal in what he described as a need to implement the constitutional threshold of gender representation premised on the two-third gender rule.
The President underscored that he was committed to avoiding the Executive being plunged into a stalemate with the Judiciary as witnessed under his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta's reign.
Former Chief Justice, David Maraga, urged Uhuru to dissolve the Parliament, an advisory that escalated the conflict between the two leaders. Maraga later on demanded Uhuru's impeachment after the former president declined to heed his call.
"We must recall that in 2020, the Chief Justice (Rtd) wrote to the President calling for the dissolution of Parliament due to its non-conformity with the two-thirds gender inclusion principle," the President stated.
According to his proposal, members of the National Assembly will be required to raise the number of nominated women MPs by 24 in order to suffice the deficit in the 97 women required to meet the threshold set in the Constitution.
Similarly, their counterparts in the Senate will be required to increase the number of nominated female senators by 16.
"For the National Assembly, the effect of this formula would establish one-third at 97 members. There already exist 47 affirmative action seats dedicated to women's leadership.
The maximum number of seats required to fulfil the constitutional threshold would therefore be only 50," the letter read in part.
Bloated Wage Bill
As regards the implications of his proposal, the President acknowledged that the implementation of the two-third gender rule would come at an extra cost owing to the additional resources needed to pay the members and overall recurrent expenditure.
However, he assured that the investment in women's empowerment would be worthwhile and would pay-off eventually
“I believe that trading off the increase in the parliamentary wage bill with the achievement of compliant inclusion of women in Parliament is eminently worthwhile. I, therefore, encourage you to seriously consider it," Ruto added in the letter.
Senate Oversight Fund
In addition, the President asked members to consider a proposal to create a Senate oversight fund to enable senators to work efficiently in their oversight of the county government and other state departments.
The President directed the members to entrench the Oversight Fund alongside the National Government Constituency Development Fund as earlier proposed by a section of MPs.
"The proposed insertion of an Article 204A to establish the National Government Constituency Development, Senate Oversight and the National Government Affirmative Action Funds to be drawn out of the national government's shareable revenue, in my considered opinion, are sufficient for purposes of conformity with the express and implicit parameters set out by the constitutional court," he stated.
In addition, Ruto called on MPs in both houses to avoid polarising the nation while considering the proposals. He underscored the need to maintain a harmonious relationship at a time when the country was recovering from a gruesome campaign season.