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A new presidential directive, the second in less than a month, slashing the retirement age further to 50 years has panicked the civil service, The Observer has learned.

The latest directive has sent shock waves across the entire civil service that was yet to come to terms with the earlier proclamation, delivered by the Presidential Press Secretary, Tamale Mirundi that lowered the retirement age down to 55 years from 60.

Our highly placed source at the Ministry of Public Service said the latest directive was communicated about a week ago and 30,000 people will lose jobs.

“When the President wanted to lower the retirement age to 55, he was told that only 15,000 jobs would fall vacant. I understand he now wants 30,000 jobs,” a distressed civil servant told The Observer last week.

The same source said government is looking for Shs 400 billion to pay the terminal benefits of the retiring employees in the next financial year.

But Keith Muhakanizi, the deputy Secretary to the Treasury said he did not know about the Shs 400 billion and referred us to the Ministry of Public Service.

The new directive will affect all civil servants, with the exception of Permanent Secretaries. This exemption has, however, infuriated mid-level civil servants.

“Permanent Secretaries were supposed to serve for only two five-year contracts, but these days contracts are renewed all the time. About 60% of them are above 60 years of age and are still serving. This means that nobody is promoted,” he said.

The move has jolted those about to clock 50 years. In the Uganda Prisons Service, about 700 officers and lower rank workers would be affected, an insider told us on Saturday. The officer said they were aware of the new directive.

A senior civil servant told The Observer that the spillover social effect of the abrupt retirement of 30,000 people will affect about 200,000 dependants.

“If you lay off 30,000 people because you want votes from the youth, what about those youth who will drop out of school because their parents have no jobs? Are 50-year-old people not voters?” he asked.

“The feeling among government workers is pathetic. Work is going to suffer and corruption could increase as people try to find something to retire with,” he added.

But Tamale Mirundi said though he was not aware of the new directive, he did not see anything wrong with the President slashing the retirement age to 50.

With runaway unemployment figures, the President has come under pressure to find jobs for a growing army of jobless youth in the run-up to next year’s elections.

A World Bank report, Africa Development Indicators 2008/09, says unemployment among Uganda’s youth is one of the highest in Africa, with 83 in every 100 people between 15 and 24 years unable to find work.

According to the same report, Uganda’s population also has the highest dependency ratio (people younger than 15 and older than 64) in Africa — registered at 1:1.

During celebrations to mark the International Youth Day last year, the youth petitioned the President to cut the retirement age, saying it would create jobs for them.

Early this month, Museveni’s press secretary, Tamale Mirundi told journalists that the President had ordered the Ministry of Public Service to lower the retirement age for civil servants to 55 years.

He said that would create about 15,000 jobs. But the President wants the age reduced further.
A senior official in the Ministry of Public Service who spoke to The Observer on condition of anonymity said:

“It’s true the President gave a written directive to the Minister of Public Service to revise the retirement age to 50 years. “The minister then copied this letter to all senior staff asking them to guide and recommend ways how to implement this directive. As senior colleagues, we agreed to meet in two weeks’ time to come up with ways of implementing this directive,” she said.

Implications


The proposed changes are akin to the restructuring exercise of the public service undertaken by government between 1992 and 1997 at the behest of the World Bank and the IMF.

An estimated 320,000 people lost their jobs in an exercise aimed at creating a lean, manageable and efficient public service.

In an academic paper appraising these reforms, Dr Yasin Olum, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Makerere University, argued that reforms in the public sector should not be driven by political or other consideration but by the desire to make public service more result-oriented and goal driven.

“The problem of what to measure in order to constitute the criteria that is agreeable in the Public Service delivery remains a complex problem. It appears that every profession, including politicians, views the delivery of public services from different perspectives and generally from their historical and contemporary backgrounds.

However, to scientifically evaluate the performance of public services, there is a dire need to identify key performance areas from a holistic point of view,” Olum wrote in a 19-page paper titled: Public Service Reform in Uganda (1989-2002): A Critical Appraisal.

Olum, now an Associate Professor, told us in an interview last week that the new changes are ill advised and shall not address the problem of unemployment.

“Whoever is pushing for this is not seeing how it will hurt the people it is supposed to affect. You do not create more jobs by pushing out other people,” Olum said.

He said at 50 years, life is just starting and many people at that age would not have marshaled enough savings to live in comfortable retirement.

The implications of losing a job for many civil servants are not only economic but even psychological. Rose Kirabira, a professional counselor told The Observer that abrupt job loss, especially by people above 50 years usually leads to social problems and, in extreme cases, mental breakdown.

“When people lose jobs when they are not prepared for it, some become withdrawn from their families and friends. In such cases, we do what we call crisis management to help them overcome the shock,” Kirabira said.

POLITICS AT PLAY?

With the NRM/Museveni vote share dwindling from 79% in 1996 to 58% in 2006, the ruling party strategists have identified the youth as a group to court.

The NRM realizes that many young voters are not persuaded by the old campaign song of “peace and stability” having been born during the NRM regime itself. Their most pressing problem appears to be unemployment, which has driven many into the opposition ranks and at worst into activities like theft and drug abuse.

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Comments

 
0 #1 MUGISHA ABDUL 2010-05-16 17:56
i think retiring Public servants at 50 is comming too late especially when the Country has lost billions from the aged and their accomplaince young ones.

That said i would request the president to use the same yard stick in the aged Army men and police and also extend the same measure to political leaders, hidding in parliament etc, if all is being done in a patriotic way.

We need young cabinet ministers, ambassadors, RDCs,etc and where there is need for a change of law to enforce the 50 year issue like for MPs, the president should use the same influence which scrapped of the term limits.Thanks.
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0 #2 Pyati Sololo 2010-05-16 18:24
I thought that in a democracy, retirement age is fixed by Parliament following thorough debate and not by the Head of State.(But then I am being unreasonable; Uganda has never been a democracy). Why doesn't the Head of State also determine the minimum wage?
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0 #3 Ariko 2010-05-16 18:32
Let HE start by retiring this year to set a good precedence. Mze arent you above 50 now or is it because you are a politician?
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0 #4 Dr. Moses Kasule 2010-05-16 18:49
It is unfortunate that Ugandan civil servants are to face the blunt of Mu7's rubish policy of retiring the civila servants at 50 years of age.

If that is the case then he too has to go...regardless of whether he is the president...and I mean the president like him who is patriotic if am right to say so.

Why retire others and not your self first....will this rubish retirement policy retire even his/Mu7's own henchmen...who are in the civil service???

Is the timing right or it is pursueded by political influence to net the young voters who are loitering the cities for jobs and many being conned and even asked for sex for the case of girls, by the liars/prospectus employers...

Mu7 and his so called advisors and strategists should think of a more vote puller than this rubish policy/approach which is a disaster for the country if implemented.

Finally, will this also affect the army and all the security forces...?

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0 #5 Young Oyo 2010-05-16 19:17
I think we should ammend the constitution urgently to require anyone vying for public office or holding one, to be no more than 60 years by 1 January 2011.

it will mean that better brains will occupy high office, manage the economy better and therefore create jobs for the thousand youths currently unemployed and better retirement packages for the many over 50s who will be forcibly retired as a result of the change.
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0 #6 Arthur 2010-05-16 19:39
How old is M7? I think he is way over that age. so is Mbabazi, Kahinda, bukenya, Kutesa. These all should retire. Let them set an example them the Civil servants can follow.

What do they expect the over 50's to do. Certainly they are still productive. If they think that Age group is not productive they too should consider quiting office.
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0 #7 Kaheru 2010-05-16 19:41
Its unfortunate that Politicians take us all for fools. I am young and unemployed but even though i am likely to benefit from this directive that wont in any way influence my quest to boot this government out out.

These unthought out directives are not good for the country, this government has failed on all fronts and must go and get sensible people who are not solely bent on clinging on power but care for the country
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0 #8 ocen 2010-05-16 19:41
Then what is the president waiting for? He must retire first to show example to other civil servants. The president is above 50 years old.
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0 #9 kizito 2010-05-16 19:45
M7 talk the talk and walk it too set the example and retire. Retiring others is not cool.
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0 #10 kato 2010-05-16 19:49
If this comes to pass it will add to what some of us have said for years: M7 has no business being Uganda's president.

Age has nothing to do with joblessness, it has everything to do with the thuggish behaviour of those in power who by their own rules are supposed to have retired ages ago.
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0 #11 jkl 2010-05-16 19:53
Am a young man who should have cerebrated if i was insane but i cant cerebrate. Its wrong for Museveni to think he can run a country like that, policies need to be researched and gradualy implemented.

Retiring people prematurely means you are sending them home to die. What will happen to their dependants,the 30,000 jobs created will not be adequate for the many of unemployed youth.

The young people have to be job creators and should not think of government employment.Young people have energy they can go for kyeyo etc. But will happen to these elderly women and men. If this policy targets the politicians, army, police and the presidential term limits we shall be happy.
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0 #12 Kristian 2010-05-16 19:55
It saddens me that the president just wakes up and comes out with policies with out looking at the consequences.

Is Uganda ready or able to have pensioners from the age of 50 years. I think we are about to set a world record on this. Currently we are struggling pay the pensioners on time, what will happen if people retire at the age of 50years? We need real solutions for the youth, you can not solve problems by creating problems. NRM has really run out of ideas.
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0 #13 John muganga 2010-05-16 20:48
Reduction of retirement may not necessarily create jobs if other laws and guidelines in Public service are not changed accordingly.

For example the issue of contract,some one reaches retirement age when s/he is informed to process for retirement benefits,uyou get a call from LCV to give the person a contract.In this case is there creation of jobs?

Similarly the Districts dont have money to pay pension thats why such problems crop up.I think whether district or central employees we are all government employees and should be treated equally in terms of pension payment.

Can the President check on the issue of Pension before anything else? So the matter should not be scurried.
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0 #14 Bossman 2010-05-17 00:32
That is what we have been talking about all along.The President is so tired and run out of ideas.

While the Chogm poople are running around enjoying their loot, the hardworking Ugandans are about to loose their jobs.Your vote is very important to remove this gov
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0 #15 Henry F Mulindwa 2010-05-17 02:11
At 50, most people have teenage children just entering university. At is at this time that one needs a job more than at age 19, when one has no family to look after.

Civil service gains from employees of experience.At this age they are more likely to be more responsible than at age 30.Government is not solving the problem of unemployment by slashing the retirement age; it is only creating more problems.

This new directives is a further proof that this government has run out of stock for good ideas for this nation. The earlier it is voted out the better.
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0 #16 stephen Kakooza 2010-05-17 02:24
It is not that jobs are not there but the biased method of recruiting relatives and friends of President Museveni in all key positions without qualifications and ability to articulate issues of development is the biggest problem Uganda is facing.

URA is only for one tribe and many other parastals including Banks,NSSF and Mobile companies all employe people from one region creating pressure in other regions where an employee from Buganda, eastern and Northern regions has over 30 dependants.

Parliament should protect 'The civil service' and bar the President from exercising undue influence and making directives on who should be recruited like he did to Makerere University by replacing Baganda leaders with relatives of Jim Muhwezi, Mwesigwa Rukutana and his own relatives.

Even if you cut retirement age to 40 without proper recruiting system and looking at academic qualifications it will only help to eliminate those opposed to NRM but will not solve anything.

Dont politicise jobs to get votes, follow systems, NSSF must adjust first to pay beneficiaries at 50yrs not retiring people at 50yrs and give them their benefits at 55yrs, there is no logic in that.NRM needs to be careful; What you are planning for other like Habyarimana did with backfire.
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0 #17 Henry Kiwanuka, Califonia, USA 2010-05-17 02:25
Museveni should fast go out of the state house plus all his old, outlived and useless figures that are occupying all the positions in the government.

otherwise its a naked lie as they want to borrow many pretending to be paid as a retirement package but use it for their campaigns, what an evil cult in my country.
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0 #18 wamala douglas 2010-05-17 02:58
Let the ideaa be implimented cause these people stay in office and to make matters worse even they yell for contracts after 60.

I think this will enable the elderly men to plan for their future thus creating jobs instead of looking for side dishes at their work places.
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0 #19 beebwa 2010-05-17 03:20
Abdul, so you think the President should again bribe MPs to pass a law??? If I were you, I would not expose my ignorance in public like you have
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0 #20 P. Rocky. Okello 2010-05-17 03:28
As the president come-up with this new retirement age, he should also look critical at ministers.

eg look at the age of some minister in their ministries of: internal affair, Education, Priminister office etc, leave alone the office of the president. something need to be done. let be serious and young generation should stop accepting to be used continuously as political condom.
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