Is it possible to implement section 116 of the new constitution?
By MUNGAI KIHANYA
The Sunday Nation
Nairobi,
18 September 2005
Last week’s analysis of Article 116 of the proposed
new constitution revealed that it will be difficult to balance the
numbers of members of parliament as required by the law. By doing a
quick calculation for a house with 200 elected MPs (180 men and 20
women), we found that there would be an additional 100 nominated members
(25 male and 75 female).
But these numbers do not satisfy the requirement of
clause 2(c) – namely, that no more than two thirds of total membership
should be the same gender. In a house with 300 MPs, our calculation
yielded 95 seats for women instead of 100 – a shortfall of 5 female
members.
The problem with section 116 of the new constitution
is that it defines the number of nominated MPs in terms of the total
members in the House. However, it does not say what this total
membership is.
Thus, if we increase the number of women to satisfy
subsection 2(c), we will also automatically increase the total
membership. Consequently, the members nominated under 2(a) and 2(b) will
also need to be increased because they must make up ten percent of all
MPs. This can easily turn out to be a vicious cycle.
Nevertheless, assuming that that all the nominees
under subsection 2(b) will be men, we can set up and solve the relevant
mathematical equations and hence determine the numbers to be appointed
under each clause. The results are:
6 women and 10 men under subsection 2(a); 16 men for
2(b); and 77 women for 2(c). The total membership comes to 309. If you
work out the ratios, you will see that they satisfy the new law.
However, this does not call for celebration: we have
assumed that all the MPs appointed through 2(b) will be men while in
reality some of them might be female. This is a catch 22 situation: we
can only find out the gender ratios for nominees under 2(b) AFTER they
have been nominated, but at the same time, political parties won’t know
how many MPs to nominate BEFORE the these same gender ratios are worked
out!
In short, it is impossible to implement section 116
(2) of the proposed new constitution. I challenge Attorney General Amos
Wako to show us how it can be done.
In case you are wondering, the Bomas
Draft Constitution did not have this problem. Article 123 clearly stated
that “The National Assembly shall consist of (a) one
member elected from each constituency…(b)
one woman elected from each district… and (c)
fourteen members elected by marginalized groups…”
Simple, clear and no complicated mathematics.
The argument that we can pass now and amend it later
is also flawed. Article 282 (1) (c) states that “A bill to amend this
constitution shall have been enacted by parliament when parliament has
passed the bill…by not less than twothirds majority of the TOTAL
MEMBERSHIP…”
Now, because of the problem in section 116, the total
membership of the House cannot be determined. Therefore, the number of
votes that will make up a twothirds majority is also not known.
Consequently, if this constitution is passed as it is, Parliament will
never be able to amend it.
Indeed, Parliament will never be able to conduct any
business because under section 130, “the quorum shall be thirty per cent
of all the members of Parliament”. Again, this number can never be
known.
There is an
interesting end note to all this: the Popular Version of the new
constitution published by the Review Commission states on page 29 that
“Among the members nominated by political parties five percent of the
members must be persons with disabilities, and…five percent…shall
represent special interests…”
This is not true! The new constitution says five percent of the total
membership of Parliament; not five percent of the
nominated members. If the brilliant minds at the CKRC secretariat
can get it wrong, do you think Wanjiku will understand it?
