One would think that for someone as accomplished as 78-year-old Yonasani Kanyomozi, retirement would be blissful but the politician says he is not enjoying it all.
With not many choices and options, he seems lost in nostalgia. “I didn’t leave public life voluntarily. We were thrown out of government by the army which was replaced by another army. I admire civil rule over military rule. I have been unemployed since I left Arusha (at the East African Community) in 2006,” he explains.
He was 65 years old when he left Arusha. Kanyomozi is an economist who served at the African Development Bank. He is more pronouncedly a veteran politician who served as minister of cooperatives in the Milton Obote government, then later on as a national chairman of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
Life in retirement
And like retirement would mean many things and ideas to different people, for grey-haired Kanyomozi, it has meant sitting back and using some of his knowledge to earn and survive, as a consultant albeit not so rewardingly.
He occasionally ignites his car to find solace in the countryside. “I go to my home, in Ntungamo. I am keeping myself alive,” he says as he leans forward to hold his mug and sip some millet porridge from it.
He momentarily excuses himself to open windows, big enough to let in enough light and breeze that tranquilly sweeps off Lake Victoria at the Mbuya Hill where his home is situated.
“I had some good jobs and I made some savings from which I got myself a home in the village too. It is a simple life I am living,” he adds as he runs his hands over his bald head.
Kanyomozi runs a home office for his company called Community Management Services (CMS) within the double-storeyed home structure.
As a largely a stay-home retiree his day starts at the six o’clock hour, listen to the news, takes a shower, have breakfast at 7:30am, goes to his home office to check on emails and do some work. He will spare time to meet people, have lunch and return to office thereafter. Between 4 and 5pm, he will drive to Kampala Club to take a swim or do aerobics.
He will shower and then join friends for a drink and share some conversation, return home, watch news, have dinner and do some reading. At midnight, he sleeps.
His gives advice and tips on a fruitfull and rewarding retirment. “If you have a job, you should start saving early so that you have where to live when the situation demands it. You should have a home. If you have a piece of land, build a home.”
He adds that if your job has a pension scheme, utilise it well. “The main source of you being able to live comfortably, will besavings and the activities you have. You can invest in property or in things that can bring you income and keep you busy.
Also, give your children good education. If the situation wasn’t as it is, of technical-know-who, they can get jobs for themselves,” he advises.
At a national level, he says his retirement dream was to have a country which is led by leaders who are chosen by the people in a free and fair election, without coercion, bribery and intimidation but participation by citizens.
“My best time was being in Parliament and being able to influence events and the government of the day instead of influencing Members of Parliament (MPs) to do what it wants,” he explains.
His understanding of good politics is Parliament being able to influence government to do what the people want, and an army that is non-partisan, free of encumbrance and subordinate to the civil authority.
“At a personal level, what I thought would happen is that I would work and when I reached the age of 65, or above, I would retire with a pension and go back and help the countryside or do advisory work on company boards, and community service. But because of the nature of politics in Africa, I couldn’t develop my career here under Amin’s regime. I had to run out of the country,” he narrates.
He run to the EAC which also collapsed where he lost out on his pension. He joined the African Development Bank as an economist loan officer. He left the bank after three years to join politics.
He says he has faced frustration in providing consultancy work as an associate consultant.
“To get a job, you have to get clearance. You will write a proposal which technically and financially okay but you need ‘clearance’. If you can’t get it, you lose the job. They take your papers and give them to the man whom they think is the right person. It became difficult because the people I was working with realised I was not an asset but liability to them,” he explains.
He says he tried to go back to politics but it became risky. “One time at my car was shot at. Luckily enough, I wasn’t in so they didn’t get me but they beat my chairman to comma. Like they say, revolutions don’t like martyrs. You have to live on to fight the next battle,” he adds.