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Linturi the firebrand

NAIROBI, September 5 – He is one of the defiant Members of Parliament (MP) pushing for a grand opposition.

With the support of a number of emerging ‘Young Turks’ he tabled a Motion in Parliament pushing for the formation of an official opposition to Kenya’s first coalition government.

The self-styled champion of the vast ‘Miraa constituency’ is not about to give up on issues that hotly brush with key politicians; his latest move has been interpreted as an attempt to curtail the ambitions of certain political figures.

Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, has filed two Motions in Parliament. One of them (and perhaps the most controversial) seeks to limit the maximum age of a Presidential contender to 65.

Capital News spoke to the KANU MP about the two Motions.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of increasing the retirement age for civil servants from 55 to 60 years?
A. The main idea of this motion is to harmonise the retirement of all public servants in the country. In the Pensions Act the retirement age is pegged at 50 years.

The Parliamentary Service Commissions Act sets it at 60 and if you look at all constitutional office holders like the judges, they retire at 74. So after scrutinising these Acts and the relevant provisions in law, I found there was need to increase the retirement age for all civil servants from 50 to 60 so that they are in line with the PSC Act.

Q. Is that reason enough to justify your Motion?  
A. Well, by so doing we will be saving a lot of money that is factored into the budget for payments of pensions. Kenya currently has 2,000 retirees who are paid almost Sh20 million every year as pension.

Seventy percent of the retirees are less than 60-years-old, if we extend the retirement age to 60 then we will be able to maintain this 70 percent in a payroll hence reducing the pension burden in the budget by the same percentage.

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Also at 50, someone is still energetic so if we extend the age, we will reduce the need of hiring retirees on contracts, which leads to the payment of a salary and pension to the same person. We end up paying the same person twice.

Again at the age of 50 that is when most people have matured and are able to get involved in policy making, such people are productive in the running of public affairs.

Q. What is the motive behind your second Motion, which is to limit the age of a Presidential aspirant?
A. I had to harmonise the retirement age of the President with that of other constitutional office holders like judges. The presidency is also a constitutional office that requires to be harmonised with the rest.

When one vies for the presidency at 64, he/she would retire at 74 like the judges, assuming they serve two terms. After retiring, these leaders could be part of a panel that advises future Presidents.

Q. Why such a Motion now?
A. Because this is the time I decided to bring it, Previously, I have brought other Motions at different times and now this was the right time for this Motion.

Q. Could you be targeting some individuals who most Kenyans believe are interested in the presidency in 2012?
A. It is their constitutional right to say what they want, but my Motion is in the interest of the nation. I think the days of thinking about individuals are long gone, people should stop looking at individuals and look at the future of the nation.

We should create laws for posterity and not laws centered on individuals, let’s think outside this box! Whatever I am doing is for the good interest of this country, and if anybody thinks I am trying to block Prime Minister Raila Odinga, they are wrong. My intentions are clean, and people should stop blocking good things that would help this country in future.

There is already a lower age limit of 35 for the presidency. Why should we lock out young people but leave it open for old people? We should strike a balance too.

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