Senators have only two parliamentary sitting days to salvage a bill that seeks to achieve gender balance in elective positions.
This is after Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura exercised his discretion to extend voting on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Senator Judith Sijeny (Nominated) for five sitting days.
“Today is the third day. You have up to Wednesday next week (February 22),” Mr Gitura said after it emerged there was no quorum for voting to take place.
The bill seeks to have more women nominated to Parliament through party lists, progressively, and be reviewed after 20 years, to meet the gender rule.
The Constitution requires that not more than two thirds of elective and appointive posts in the country be made up of one gender.
The bill requires at least 45 Senators to proceed to the next stage because the law requires that a bill seeking to amend the constitution must be passed by not less than two thirds of the lawmakers.
On December 28, last year, during a special sitting, only 37 lawmakers voted in support of the bill against six who opposed it while 3 others abstained from voting.
“It was clear from the vote that the bill did not attain the required threshold to pass through the second reading,” Mr Kembi said.
Ms Sijeny appealed for more time and appealed to the legislators to ensure they attend the available on Wednesday when the bill will be subjected to a vote o support the bill.
Dr Boni Khalwale said there is need to clear doubts that has made some lawmakers to shy away from supporting the bill that he said is too important to be ignored.
“This is a very important bill for the women and in future for men, when the women will become the majority in the House (Parliament),”
“We are under a lot of pressure from our women voters. We must fight for them to get to Parliament,” Dr Khalwale said.
But, the deputy speaker said every bill that is accepted in parliament is important and said the only way out is for the lawmakers to vote for it in compliance with the law.
Senate Majority Chief Whip Beatrice Elachi appealed to political parties to support women seeking elective positions to reduce the number of those nominated to meet the gender rule.
“Let us not push the country into a crisis in 2017. Kenyans can help us believe in women leadership by electing them,” she said.
Ms Elachi downplayed fears by male senators that the bill advocates for women already nominated to be considered for another term.
Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong’are differed with his colleagues pushing for ironing out of contentious issues in the bill saying time to make any changes had elapsed.
“You can’t amend a bill that has gone through all the processes and is at the voting stage. The best that can be done is to marshal numbers to ensure it sails through,” he said.
Mr Mong’are who is a presidential aspirant said political parties are to blame for locking out women from leadership positions.
“Political parties have been short-changing women and that is why Jubilee cannot use its tyranny of numbers to push for this gender bill as it did to the security and the election laws that were acrimoniously passed,” Mr Mong’are said.
Dr Agnes Zani (Nominated) said the Senate can help the country avoid plunging into a constitutional crisis after MPs in the National Assembly frustrated a similar bill.