Nakuru taxpayer to pay more to meet gender threshold
Even though the number of women elected as members of the National Assembly and the Senate has increased compared to those elected during the 2013 General Election, performance of women candidates especially those vying for the county assembly positions was not as impressive as expected.
Out of the 290 members of parliament elected directly women only managed to capture 23 seats an increase from 16 in 2013. In the Senate, three women were elected to join the male dominated house which was seen as an improvement because in the 2013 no woman was directly elected as senator. Only 96 women were elected as members of the county assembly out of a total of 1,450 slots that were up for grabs.
In Nakuru County, things were not different with some political observers saying that things went from bad to worse. Only five women were elected as Members of the County Assembly in the 55 wards as compared to eight women who were elected in 2013. The county will now have to nominate more women to meet the two thirds gender threshold.
In its first assembly Nakuru County had a total of 73 members, 55 of who were directly elected while 18 were nominated with 16 of the nominees being women. In its second assembly, the county will have more representatives. Twenty three people have been nominated to the county assembly with 21 of the nominees being women. This will bring to a total 78 members of the county assembly which will have a direct effect on the county wage bill.
According to a Nakuru based journalist and media trainer Kioko wa Kivandi, the county would have saved itself from the burden of an increased wage bill if the electorate had considered more women. He argues that if only 18 women were elected as members of the county assembly then the county would have saved hundreds of millions of shillings in terms of paying for salaries and allowances to the nominated members of county assembly.
“If only we would have elected 18 women as members of the county assembly, then we would have saved ourselves the burden of nominated MCAs for the next five years. What we needed to do was simply ensure that only a third of the 55 MCAs are women and that means electing only 18 women. However, since we failed then the tax payer must be prepared to pay the price,” said Kioko.
With the Salaries and Remunerations Commission pegging the MCAs salaries at KSh144,000, it then means that the Nakuru taxpayer will have to spend over KSh3.3 million per month to cater for nominated MCAs salaries alone. This will translate to KSh39.75 million yearly and almost KSh2 billion for the next five years.
Nakuru based political analyst Andrew Nyabuto says that although the county voters elected more women to represent them at the national level, they failed by not electing as many women at the county level something that would have guaranteed them excellent service.
“We elected four women at the national level, three to the National Assembly and one to the Senate because we believed that women can offer alternative and better leadership but we failed to realize that development has been devolved and all we need are good leaders at the county level,” said Nyabuto. He added: “I think Nakuru voters failed by not electing more women to the county assembly because women are known to be less corrupt than men and better at service delivery.”
According Nyabuto, the Nakuru tax payer will have to dig deep into their pockets to take care of the huge and increased number of MCAs for the next five years. He notes this will have a direct financial impact on the county that has been grappling with a ballooning wage bill.
However, others argue that voters should not be blamed for not electing women. Nakuru based human rights activist Wycliffe Egesa says that women failed to convince the electorate to elect them. He says: “Male candidates mounted more serious and intensive campaigns as opposed to their female counterparts.”
“I don’t think it will be right to blame the voter for not electing a woman because the voter simply exercised his/her democratic right and they might have elected these men because the men were able to convince them,” Egesa said.
He added: “Women should fight for these positions and convince the people that they are better leaders and they will be elected.”
The only women who were directly elected as MCAs in Nakuru County include Jane Ngugi (Gilgil), Rose Chepkoech (Kiptagich), Irene Chebichi (Soin),Mary Wanjiru (Subukia) and Cecilia Nyambura (Visoi).
At the national level Nakuru voters elected three women to the National Assembly and one to the Senate who include Charity Kathambi (Njoro), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha) and Martha Wangari (Gilgil) as well as Susan Kihika (Senator).
The 21 women who have been nominated to bridge the gender gap in the Nakuru County Assembly include Maurine Chepkoech Lesingo, Zaituni Zainabu, Kamau Catherine Nyambura, Gichuki Wacheke Elizabeth, Maina Jane Wambui, Kones Lily Chepkemoi, Sylvia Kemunto Onyancha, Maru Rachael Chepkorir, Jackline Manyara Wangechi, Kimani Mukenyi Anne, Njoroge Karugi Rose, Kairu Nyambura Gladys, Mwathi Grace Wambui, Njoroge Gathoni Rose, Isabella Makori, Korir Doreen Jebiwot, Kilisha Caroline Cherono, Joyce Anyiso, Njuguna Nyambura Susan, Leah Jepngetich Sang and Alice Chepkirui Kering.