Thirdway Alliance of Kenya party leader, Dr Ekuru Aukot, has poured cold water on the current push to achieve the constitutionally mandated two-thirds gender rule through the Gender Bill, saying its proponents in Parliament are operating in pretense.
He said parliamentarians should stop “their pretense” about amending the constitution to achieve gender parity in the August house through the proposed law.
He said the law as drafted fell far short of constitutional requirements as spelt out in Article 81 (b). That section of the law says that not more than two-thirds of the members of appointive and elective public bodies should comprise of either gender.
“The bill is inadequate and even contradicts the concerns of the President, who clearly said that implementing the constitution is expensive. In fact, we want women to constitute 50 per cent of elective seats in parliament,” he added.
The 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 former activist said that, the focus of the leaders should instead be on the state of human rights violation with cases increasing day by day.
He said leaders should address more pressing matters such as extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of innocent Kenyans.
“People are being killed in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nairobi. The state of human rights is deteriorating and the direction of reforms should focus on that. There is need for a national debate on issues affecting the common wananchi,” said Dr Aukot.
Dr Aukot also scoffed at the Building Bridges Intiative, terming it a selfish political quest that is intended to benefit only a few individuals.
Dr Aukot said the reform agenda that the initiative is claiming to strive for was a mere smokescreen meant “to hoodwink Kenyans and nothing new could come of it”.
“Over the last few days, we have seen politicians bootlicking for purposes of jobs offered purely for political reason. What ails Kenya is already known and is contained in various reports that only need the political will to implement,” he said.
He cited the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Ndung’u, Krigler, Waki reports among others as reports that needed implementation. The reports touch on human rights violation.
Speaking during a press briefing at Haki Africa offices in Mombasa, Dr Aukot, who was accompanied by Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid, roundly criticised the clamour for a referendum.
“The political leaders are using the referendum call to further their political interests. They have not explained the benefits their kind of referendum will bring to Kenyans. The referendum quest has been hijacked by a section of leaders and is being used to position leaders for 2022,” he said.
Asked whether his concerns on the current issues was because he had been left out of the unity talks, Dr Aukot said “I am not interested in any post.”
“Kenyans cannot allow the political class to drive the national reform agenda for selfish gain. As a people, we are misled by political rhetoric while our rights continue to be infringed upon with impunity. We must ensure we focus on safe guarding the interests of the people,” he said.
Mr Khalid said there was need for the formation of judicial inquiry to investigate cases of killings and forced disappearances.
He said officers from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) recently reached out to Haki Africa following some of the cases involving police officers.
“While we acknowledge efforts made by the DPP to look into the matter, we need to see more being done. This is not a banana republic and we want law to be followed strictly,” he said.