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When it’s time to retire, people must simply go home

by Aphelele Maseko

Can somebody tell me why people who have reached retirement age are not allowed to retire peacefully in this country? Somebody! Anybody!

Just when a well deserved rest is due, people in public office are given more years to do what they should have completed ages ago. It is quite sickening, especially because the kingdom is filled with many capable, equally qualified people who have nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs all day.

Two recent examples are the extension of NERCHA Director Derek von Wissell’s contract and that of Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula. Both men have done their bit and deserve to go home and relax before the challenges that accompany old age come knocking.

I’ll start with Dr. von Wissell. He has been NERCHA director for over a decade now and surely if he had anything to contribute, he had ample time to do that. I am not sure how old he is but I bet my last Heineken that he is way over 60. Hell – long before he was appointed NERCHA director, he already looked like he was ready to call it a day. He has a fairly capable deputy in Khanya Mabuza so it baffles me why the younger and competent Mabuza is not given a chance!

My friend Steve says in this country, HIV and AIDS – just like poverty – has a Black face. He says he does not know a single White person who has publicly declared being HIV positive. I agree with him, which is why such a unit needs to be run by an indigenous Swazis who knows what it is like to be poor, HIV positive and without hope. It is time to confront the problem from another angle and it would be great for Dr. von Wissell to leave the stage while the applause is loud. Dr von Wissell will be remembered for his frank approach to issues.

I am reminded of his response to an irresponsible statement made by Prince Mangaliso last year. His fat reaction was “Prince Mangaliso must shut up”. That was a fitting response to a statement by a clearly insane man. Dr von Wissell is also one of the few people in the health sector who has come out openly to state that behavior change messages are not doing much to curb HIV infection in the kingdom. He should leave now, while he can still be remembered for his good work.

Pic of Issac Magagula, Police CommissionerIsaac Magagula should also have been allowed to step down now. There isn’t a lot I can say about him save for the fact that he is a diplomat who always handles issues professionally. With the gazillion deputies he has, surely there is someone equally or more competent who can take over! The man has served this country for close to four decades – surely he has done enough!

Given our economic situation isn’t it time people were allowed to retire when the time comes? I am yet to be convinced that it is in their best interests to continue serving in these jobs. People need to leave the stage and give opportunities to others who may have better ideas, not to mention sharper minds and stronger bodies!

We’ve had to go through the same thing with principal secretaries who stayed in office long past their "sell-by date”. These are the same people you would find dozing off in parliament while important issues were being discussed.

Speaking of retirement, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if chiefs, the King’s advisors and other people holding public office would also retire at some age. It is time some of them went home to tend to their weak knees and aching bones – perhaps starting with Prince Mangaliso, who always manages to rub me up the wrong way. It is time they paved the way for new blood!

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