The Kenyan constitution 2010 recognizes aspirations of all Kenyans based on human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law.
The participation and inclusion of women, youth and people with disability in the political and electoral process is enshrined as an imperative in the constitution with article 81 (B & C) and article 100 requiring the necessary legislation to ensure that the electoral process provides for their representation.
While Kenya is recognized as a bastion of democracy in Africa, the truth is our electoral processes is characterized by exclusion and is marred with irregularities, malpractice including voter bribery, a lack of transparency and for the most part tend to be violent akin to going to war. Voters are ill informed on the value of this civic process in manifesting their sovereign power and the will of the people, contributing to their failure to hold leaders and state institutions to account. Efforts at improving our electoral process have been well canvased over the years with clear recommendations made in the Kriegler report which we are yet to implement.
Women, youth and people with disability have been designated as special interest groups ( a designation not given in the constitution) and through this labeling have been robbed of their fundamental human rights and entitlement to participate in the political and electoral process. This is manifested by the fact since the first election under the new constitution in 2013, the not more than two thirds gender principle has not been implemented despite numerous court orders including a dissolution order for parliament, Article 81 (c)providing for the fair representation of person with disability has bot been implemented and article 100 providing for parliament to enact the necessary legislations to provide for the participation of women, youth and other marginalized groups remains unimplemented.
During the development of the charter of inclusion by CRAWN Trust, it was shocking to discover that in 2017 despite the provision of article 177 (B &C) over 10 counties failed to nominate the necessary women to ensure not more than two thirds of the assembly were of the same gender and failed to nominate the necessary numbers to ensure the representation of persons with disability. This means political parties nominated men for women seats and abled bodied persons for people with disability seats, in clear contravention of the constitution displaying their contempt for constitutionalism and the rule of law manifesting the deep-seated impunity that characterizes our political landscape.
Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which Kenya is a signatory to, enshrines the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status. Article 18 calls on all States Parties to eliminate every discrimination against women and to ensure the protection of the rights of women as stipulated in international declarations and conventions
The constitution of Kenya mandates that the independent electoral and boundaries commission should provide braille materials for the voting process but as observed in the general election 2022, the commission failed to provide this citing budgetary constraints. This speaks to the callousness and casualness with which state institutions take the principle of inclusion which is a cardinal pillar interwoven throughout in the architecture of the constitution 2010.
While we commend the registrar of political parties Madam Ann Nderitu, for the good work that she has done and continues to do with political parties, we expect a lot more from the ORPP particularly on matters inclusion. Political parties are the premium gateway to leadership and decision making spaces in Kenya and therefore hold the key to ensuring the inclusion of previously marginalized groups in political and electoral processes. They are mandated by law to carry out programmes to include women, youth and people with disability in political party activities and are funded by tax payers for this; however, we have seen little to none of this.
Women, youth and people with disability party leagues have virtually no say about their inclusion and participation even in party processes. These women and youth groups have been a powerful resource for mobilising and organising for political parties and their candidates for the ballot but beyond the ballot, they have no pride of place. We have witnessed many women get short changed in the primary processes ensuring few get to the ballot with nominations being reserved for cronies and family in contravention of our constitution.
The 2022 election has given us something to celebrate as we have seen an increase in elected women, youth and persons with disability despite the lack of enabling legislation and the many hurdles along the way but we are still far from the promise. For marginalised groups, it is not yet Uhuru.