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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Government Receives Resounding Defeat In New Constituencies Bill

But What About The 50 Seats For Women?

The fact that the government of national unity had a closed-door meeting immediately after receiving a terrible defeat in a crucial bill that was supposed to pave way for the addition of new constituencies speaks volumes.

It confirms that the new constituencies (40 had been planned) were a crucial part of President Kibaki's re-election plan. Remember Hon Martha Karua's words at an unguarded moment, she said; "new constituencies are a must!"

It now emerges that the government's strategy was to sugar-coat the new constituencies bill with the rider of 50 new seats for women. It was a good idea on paper—the operative word here being "on paper." I keep on saying that politics is does not work with good on paper ideas and I keep asking who is the President's political strategist? Do they really know what they are doing?

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The reasoning was that being so close to the polls MPs would not dare risk antagonizing the electorate by rejecting something as popular as 50 new seats in parliament for women. It was a terrible miscalculation. What made things even worse was the fact that the recently passed media bill had backfired so badly and painted the Kibaki administration in such poor light. MPs had just peered out of the house to see symbolically "gagged" journalists peacefully assembled outside the house. Then to add insult to injury the manner in which the bill had been rushed into the house without much thought being put into building a consensus. All this conspired to put most legislators in a very bad mood against the government side by the time the bill landed on the floor of the house.

So what are the repercussions?

It is clear that the President's re-election strategy has hit a snag. There is now no legal way to increase the constituencies before the elections. The intricate well-laid plans now need to be adjusted and I am sorry to say this, if it is the same team doing things, the opposition, divided or not have got absolutely nothing to worry about.

But to the legislators in the 9th parliament, they have given their challengers one more powerful campaign slogan. The parliament that rejected women.

Here are the "achievements" of the 9th parliament so far;

1) The parliament that passed unprecedented remuneration increases for MPs as well as perks, even as the rest of the country went through hardships and starvation.

2) The house that passed the ill-advised Media Bill with a killer clause designed to end press freedom in Kenya.

3) The House that rejected new seats for women.

4) The House with the worst attendance record for important debates, to date.

5) The house that covered up the findings of its' own select committee meant to probe the murder of former foreign affairs minister Dr Robert Ouko.

6) The house that had saunas and other luxuries installed for MPs which further made them inaccessible to the people who elected them because Kumekucha has ascertained that most of the time constituents are told their MP is not in, they are relaxing in the Sauna in their office complex in the former continental house. Etc. (space does not allow us to carry all the sins of the 9th parliament).

Dear Kenyans, let us do ourselves a big favor and vote the WHOLE LOT out in December.

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