Perspective of the World from Western Kenya

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Kenyan politics must have a retirement age

Written by West Fm
2012-04-11 19:37:00
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“Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me.  I never had the time before to notice the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, and the tree outside my own front door.  And the beauty of time itself!!!” By Hartman Jule

The retirement age for public servants in Kenya is 60 years.  The highest retirement age set by the Kenyan Constitution is for Judges of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court at 70 years.

The political class in Kenya has for selfish personal interests refused to legislate the maximum age at which a person should not be allowed to hold an elective or nominative public office especially for President, Deputy President, Senator, Speaker, Member of Parliament, Governor, Women Representative and County Representative.

The Constitutional elective offices are no different from any other public offices so that they cannot have a maximum age beyond which one becomes ineligible to hold that office on the ground of age.  If a Judge of the Superior Court has been barred from working beyond the age of 70, what rationale, logic, scientific basis makes it legal that a persons can vie for in Kenya for the office of the President and even if he is at age 95 years and can be elected and manage the affairs of the Nation?  Elective office holders are paid by the tax payers’ money and they cannot have special rights to hold office up to any age while other public servants have upper limit retirement ages.

The political class is not superhuman, made of a different DNA than the public servants, judges who have fixed ages at which they must retire.  The dynamics underlying retirement are for certain older generations to pave way for the younger generation and critically those at a certain age people have reached their most productive years and must give way as they start operating on the law of diminishing returns.  That they have physically atrophied, that they are not as agile, not as nimble, not as energetic, not as resilient and therefore they must pass the baton to another generation.

The tragedy in Africa is well exemplified in President Robert Mugabe who at age 87 years is still adamant, he wants to run for another term of five years which means that if he wins he will still be President at age 92.  Recently, former President Wade of Senegal had to be humiliatingly voted out for persisting to run a third term for the presidency even when he was at age 85 years.  And President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack at the age of 78 years on 05/04/2012 as President of Malawi. Champions of African democracy have campaigned for fixed term limits (mainly two terms) for African Presidents but failed to confront the reality that African politics must seriously move to put an upper age limit as to when a person can hold elective office.  The Kenya political landscape has been and continues to live under the spell of those who entered public and political life at independence 49 years ago and many of them have had to only leave politics courtesy of death or through term limits or humiliating electoral defeats.  How can it be that in electoral politics there is no generational change, retirement and calling it a day? Those who entered the public service at independence thereafter upon amassing wealth corruptly using the public offices went to politics and became permanent fixtures as they could use their ill gotten wealth to purchase the electorate.

The dismal social-economic performance of Kenya can largely be blamed on corrupt political leadership and public servants working in cahoots with the political class.  The toxic chemistry of corrupt politicians and public servants has to be jettisoned and a new order based on integrity and appropriate skill sets,  be installed, if the country will be able to hope of joining the levels of development witnessed by its independence peers like Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil.

Can any of the young politicians in Parliament or patriotic old politicians prepare a Motion for the setting of a maximum age at which anybody will be barred from standing for elective office.  Let the age be debated and a suitable one be fixed whether it is 75 years or 80 years.  And cant a Constitutional Petition be filed by any patriotic Kenyan for the courts of the country to determine whether it is not discriminatory for all other public servants to have retirement ages while the political class who occupy public office (only that it is elective) have no maximum age beyond which they are barred from holding such public office through election or nomination.

And why can’t political parties through their party Constitutions be bold enough to set upper age limits at which their members may be permitted to seek elective public offices so that these retrogressive practices of persons pursuing elective office even they have diminished mental and physical abilities is banished from our political culture.

West Fm Kenya states that the electorate of Western Province and North Rift must use the coming general elections to set age limits as to the highest age one should be permitted to contest for an elective office.  It is surely not logical to imagine that senile persons or those who are physically fragile can be heard to claim they want to be Governors, Senators, Mps etc.  The Western democracies have since the early 1990s consistently elected Presidents in their 40s.  President Bill Clinton, President Bush, President Obama in the USA and Prime Minister Tony Blair and now David Cameron in the United Kingdom, all entered office in their mid 40s and served 10 years or less than 15 years and they exited the political scene.

Generation 18 to 45 years you are the majority of the electors in the region and it is incumbent upon you to retire out of political elective office persons who are beyond the age of 70 years.  And if one has not made the best of his most effective, energetic agile years of up to 70 years, what is it he or she can do after 70 years?  The lie that those of advanced years have wisdom and experience must be pulverized.  Let those of the past retirement ages render, be mentors and use their wisdom and experience in nurturing the young leaders.  Let them write their memoirs for the young generation to learn about their accomplishments and emulate them.

West fm states that there has to be a retirement age or upper limit in age and at which persons become ineligible to hold elective or nominative political public office  so that Western Kenya and North Rift and Kenya at large can have a mechanism for generational change in leadership instead of the scenario prevailing where those who ought to be in political retirement are congesting, polluting, manipulating, slowing down the political playing field to the detriment of those who have many years to live and are at their optimum productivity.  The challenges that the region has to grapple with of poverty, corruption, dysfunctional public service, unemployment among others require energetic, bold, courageous men and women in their prime with integrity and the right skill sets not those in their sunset years who cling to politics in fear of retirement.

West fm©

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