Define deputies' roles, women demand

Azimio Presidential candidate Raila Odinga with his running mate Martha Karua at KICC in Nairobi,  on May 16, 2022. A women's lobby want the duties of a deputy president and deputy governors specified.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Women lobby groups want a legal framework developed to specify duties of the offices of the Deputy President and the Deputy Governor.
  • The only time the Deputy President can enjoy real power is if the president dies or is temporarily incapacitated.
  • If there was a time that we as the women fraternity were closer to realising our hard fought battle of inclusion in power, it is now.

Women lobby groups in the country now want a legal framework developed to specify duties of the offices of the Deputy President and the Deputy Governor.

They fear, as women demand nominations from male aspirants going for the presidency and the governor posts that these two offices are currently ceremonial and might end up being a dupe for them.  The women are demanding that deputy governors and deputy presidents have definite portfolios.

Their fear is founded on the prevailing situation where all deputy governors have operated without specific duties and powers, as well as the fallout between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy Dr William Ruto.

“We want all women nominated for the posts to go into it assured that they will not be packed in offices like flower girls. We do not want to be here in 2024 and beyond complaining that we were given empty shells as offices. We want women who are nominated to take the seats assured that they will be exercising real power for maximum effect,” said Federation for African Women Educationists (Fawe) board member, Cecilia Gitu.

Article 147 of the Constitution spells duties of the deputy president to be the principal assistant to the boss by executing duties assigned. The only time a Deputy President can enjoy real power is if the president dies or is temporarily incapacitated.

For the deputy governors, article 179 (4and 5) of the Constitution states that he/she is the deputy chief executive and when the governor is absent, he/she acts the powers. In case of governor’s death, the deputy assumes office.

Ms Gitu said: “If there was a time that we as the women fraternity were closer to realising our hard fought battle of inclusion in power, it is now. The worst we can do to ourselves is to start celebrating and forget the negative case studies we have about those two offices and end up being victims of the same.”

She said women will not be assuming the offices of the Deputy Governor and the Deputy President with hopes of their bosses dying in office so that they can exercise power.

Currently, most male aspirants for the gubernatorial positions are picking women as their running mates.

Polycarp Igathe vying for Nairobi gubernatorial post on an Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance ticket has since appointed Prof Phillip Kaloki as his running mate, while his main competitor on United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket Senator Johnson Sakaja, has picked James Muchiri, a banker, as his proposed deputy.

A grassroots women’s economic empowerment group, Groots Kenya, led by Gachambi Njuki said: “The skies have widely opened for us women leaders this political season and we must make hay while the sun shines.”

“We are happy that for the first time, we have women who are front runners in the Deputy Presidency post…  We have Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru …It is a nice feeling and what we now want is a guarantee that whoever ends up in office will exercise real power and not subject to humiliation,” she said. (Raila Odinga has since named the Narc-Kenya leader as his running mate).

Faith Evangelistic Ministry head Apostle Teresia Wairimu, Corporate professional Pauline Warui, policy and research consultant Njeri Kiereini, who coalesce around The Women Clergy and Professionals Network for Karua as the Deputy President, said: “Given real hand to perform, she will be the symbol of national truth.”

Ms Wairimu said this cannot happen in an atmosphere where her office is reduced to that of a flower girl.

“By God’s grace who will be answering our persistent and unrelenting prayer that the deputy president of the Republic of Kenya after the August 9 General Election be a woman, we are optimistic that given clear duties and mandate, we will by the next government formation in 2027 be marvelling on why we delayed this far to have her in office and you never know…Kenyans might even decide to demand that 2027 new government have a female president,” Ms Wairimu said.


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