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Civil Society Recommendations on the Presidential Memo Sent to Parliament on 9th December 2022

A meeting was held at the office of the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Affirmative Action, and Gender in Kenya, Hon. Aisha Jumwa Katana, on 4th May 2023. The meeting was attended by women leaders and representatives from various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the National Women Steering Committee and the Civil Society Parliamentary Engagement Network. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposals presented in the Presidential Memo sent to the Parliament on 9th December 2022. This report outlines the key discussions and recommendations made during the meeting.

  1. Implementation of the Two-Thirds Gender Rule: The attendees expressed their appreciation for the President’s commitment to implementing the Constitution, particularly concerning women’s inclusion in leadership positions. They noted that the Two-Thirds Gender Principle has faced significant delays in its realization and raised concerns about the Parliament’s continued sessions despite being unconstitutionally constituted.

Recommendations: a) The proposed formula presented in the Presidential Memo was found to be erroneous, as it did not reflect the correct composition of the National Assembly. The attendees recommended a top-up of thirty-six women, instead of the proposed twenty-four, to bring the total number of women in the National Assembly to 117, in compliance with the Constitution. b) An amendment to Article 98(b) was proposed, suggesting the deletion of “women” and the insertion of “special seats” to meet the Two-Thirds Gender Principle. c) It was proposed that a bill be tabled in Parliament to operationalize Article 100, ensuring equal representation of women, youth, persons with disabilities (PWDs), marginalized communities, and ethnic and other minorities. d) The attendees welcomed the proposal to establish a fund to promote inclusion and political participation. They recommended expanding the fund to cover other groups and renaming it the “Inclusion and Political Participation Fund.” They also proposed amending the Political Parties Act 2011 to allocate 30% of political parties’ funds to the Inclusion and Political Participation Fund, with strengthened accountability mechanisms. e) A suggestion was made to insert Section 28(3) in line with Article 81(b) to ensure that political parties submit lists that adhere to the Two-Thirds Gender Principle.

  1. Constituency Development, Senate Oversight, and National Government Affirmative Action Funds: The attendees acknowledged the judiciary’s determination on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and proposed the creation of an Equalization Fund under Article 204(A). They also noted an overlap and duplication in the application of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) and the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) and recommended establishing clear demarcation and accountability mechanisms for these funds.
  2. The Leader of Official Opposition: The creation of the Office of Leader of Official Opposition was supported to enhance inclusivity, stability, democracy, and checks and balances. However, it was emphasized that the establishment and operation of this office must be in line with the law. The attendees recommended clearly defining the office’s operations, funding mechanisms, composition, and functions. They also suggested allocating moderate resources to the office and exploring avenues for support from donors and the international community.
  3. Parliamentary Oversight of the Executive: The President’s proposal to facilitate Cabinet Secretaries’ and Chief Administrative Secretaries’ participation in parliamentary proceedings was discussed. The attendees pointed out that Cabinet Secretaries are already required to appear before corresponding house committees, and this approach was deemed sufficient for enhancing parliamentary oversight of the Executive. They emphasized the need to uphold the doctrine of Separation of Powers