Give priority to youth, not retirees, in civil service jobs


Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The National Assembly should reject the Bill that seeks to bring back retirees to the civil service, ostensibly to beef up talent in critical service areas and put money in the pockets of senior citizens.

The Geriatric Bill, 2021, sponsored by Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba, is yet another slap in the face of the youth in this country.

On countless occasions, State officials have demonstrated their alacrity to prioritise the interests of old and privileged citizens at the expense of young people.

There is no justification for the proposed law in a country teeming with highly qualified and jobless youth who represent the majority of the population.

Retired civil servants have had their chance and should stay away from the public service to allow succession to continue through the ranks, starting with employment of young people.

We have seen some retired civil servants brought back to serve the State in various capacities. This may be justified because their numbers are small and their skills and experience could indeed be rare.

But to open the floodgate for retirees to revive their careers is insensitive in a country with a growing population.

The other justification offered by the drafters of the Bill is that we need to take care of the old. The question is why are we obsessed with senior citizens who have had long, gainful employment and are now drawing pensions and gratuity?

The government already disburses billions of shillings annually to senior citizens who are vulnerable to poverty. Retired civil servants hardly fit this criterion and to create a new law to lift their fortunes above the truly poor is insensitive.

The Bill also says that some retired civil servants may be rehired against their will — a bizarre provision that is likely to be challenged in court if the National Assembly passes it into law.

It is time that the interest of the youth gets the attention it deserves, starting with jobs in the public service.

The government should focus on training and succession planning at all levels to allow civil servants to retire at 60 years. We simply cannot keep ignoring young people while looking for new ways to pad up the fortunes of the privileged and elderly.