A storm is brewing at the Taita-Taveta County Assembly as female MCAs lock horns with their male counterparts over gender imbalance in various committees.
Matters reached a head yesterday when the women MCAs protested within the precincts of the county assembly, with one of them threatening to strip naked to show anger over failure to be included in the committees of the house.
Speaking at Jora Primary school in Kasigau during the commemoration of 100 years since the forcible movement of Kasigau people to Malindi by the British colonial government, county assembly majority leader Cromwel Baridi and assembly chief whip Jason Tuja accused their female counterparts of showing disrespect to the county assembly and being “immoral”.
“It must be understood that gender issues are about both women and men but it’s sad that each time women talk of gender they only think about themselves,” said Baridi.
He pointed out that some of the women MCAs protesting over exclusion from assembly committees were among those who supported the move to have the committees reduced from 33 to 23, little knowing that this was going to lock most of them out.
“All our women MCAs were nominated due to gender balance by various parties but that does not make them automatic committee members in the assembly,” said Baridi.
Taita-Taveta County assembly has 35 members, 20 elected MCAs, all men, and 15 nominated MCAs majority of them women, by virtue of the constitutional requirement of one third gender rule.
In the recent changes, no single female MCA was included to chair any committees, sparking protests.
Assembly chief whip Jason Tuja warned the nominated MCAs to show respect for their elected counterparts and work together instead of making unrealistic demands.
“Our nominated counterparts came into the assembly six months later when we the elected MCAs had already began working on various matters pertaining to the county,” said Tuja.
He described the recent protests by the women MCAs as immoral and a sign of immaturity.
“In future, political parties should vet their candidates thoroughly to make sure only women with moral integrity are nominated to the assembly,” said Tuja alleging that some of his female counterparts had serious integrity issues.
“Some of our women MCAs have been having affairs with other peoples’ husbands. This is not proper, yet when they shame the assembly, they forget that we know their wrong doings, but we’ve chosen to remain silent for the sake of our unity,” Tuja sensationally claimed.
Baridi was even more rabid: “Some of our nominated MCAs are illiterate. How do you expect someone who has gone up to class three to chair a technical committee meant to address sensitive uses such as education? That is absurd”.
Sources close to the county assembly said that the women MCAs had vowed to take legal action over the matter. One of them had reportedly called on Siaya senator James Orengo to intervene, but it wasn’t clear whether they were engaging Orengo as a lawyer or as a senator, which has nothing to do with Taita-Taveta politics.
Taita-Taveta senator Dan Mwazo had reportedly kept off from the controversy despite being contacted to intervene over the matter.
Speaking in Kasigau yesterday, governor Mruttu asked more women to go for elective posts in 2017 instead of banking on the gender factor so as to benefit from affirmative action.
“Women have shown that they can work as hard as their male counterparts so there should be no reason why they should always bank on gender issues to get to leadership. What is needed is a level playing field so that men and women can compete for leadership favorably” said Mruttu.
“Some of our nominated MCAs are illiterate. How do you expect someone who has gone up to class three to chair a technical committee meant to address sensitive uses such as education? That is absurd”.