My father worked for government for 32 years. He was a committed civil servant who dedicated his youthful energy to adding his contribution to building the Pearl of Africa. Government rang the end-of-service bell for him the moment he turned 60. It was time to hang the boots and go home. A ceremonial appreciation in form of gratuity was given to him – barely enough to see him through the next six months. The reasons governments give for this practice is that at 60, there is not much one can offer in terms of productivity at work, hence letting the old guard out as they groom young Turks to take over from them.
At 60, my father had since lost track of many a trend of the generation where we, his children, are masters at understanding and interpreting emerging new trends. When he acquired his first smart phone, he barely knew anything about social media, we painstakingly bore his incessant inquisitions into the use of the newly acquired technology. He accepted that age had caught up, the exuberance and wit he had carried with him started to wane. We on the other hand became the younger version of him and he would not hesitate to inquire from us about what he didn’t understand, and at 63, the Lord called him.
I watched with pain in my heart as the President together with the Speaker of Parliament, both in their advanced age, were being duped into believing that there was a silver bullet - in form of a spray, that has been invented by some self-proclaimed philanthropist, that can kill all viruses and bacteria – all of them, both present and yet to come, and this very magnanimous man was donating the patents of his invention, one that could fetch him a huge fortune, to Uganda to curb the lurking global pandemic – never mind that we have no reported case of the same!
Needless to say, his country has lost scores to the same virus yet he is so kind, he wants to donate this to us and not the Americans – his own people! The two leaders were not short of excitement as they broke this ‘good’ news to Ugandans and to parliamentarians and announced how God had just smiled on us.
I still don’t know why the retirement age for politicians is not set at 50 years. Unlike my father, these people are responsible for the lives and welfare of millions of Ugandans, and subsequently, an unintelligible decision by them can affect millions – even to the point of death. They, more than anyone else, should be relieved of their duties as early as possible to save the country from their impending decisions accruing from advanced age. Why do we still have these people serving in government?
Like my father, they have since lost track of what’s happening around them, they are not shy to ask, but unfortunately, those they ask are opportunists seeking to take advantage of these leaders’ advanced age and sheer aloofness to what’s happening around the world to exploit them for personal benefit. Let us lower the retirement age for politicians to 50 years.