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Can President William Ruto Keep His Promise to Fire Over-60 Civil Servants?

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President William Ruto recently announced on the social media platform X that civil servants who turn 60 must retire immediately, with no extensions.

He issued this sweeping directive in response to the growing dissatisfaction among young Kenyans with his administration’s performance.

Will Ruto follow through, given the number of over-60s in his cabinet and the broader government?

President William Ruto, Bloated Government and Political Cronies

Ruto’s cabinet is criticized for being filled with political cronies and sycophants who, according to critics, add little value to the nation. Among the prominent figures targeted by this new policy are:

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  • Prime Cabinet Secretary/Foreign Affairs CS Musalia Mudavadi (63): Besides his age, Mudavadi’s office is deemed unconstitutional, and it is widely believed that he was appointed to attract votes from the Western Region/Luhya Nation.
  • Lands CS Alice Wahome (65)
  • Education CS Ezekiel Machogu (68)
  • National Treasury CS Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u (64)
  • Attorney General Justin B. Muturi (68)
  • Energy and Petroleum CS Davis Chirchir (64): Chirchir has been embroiled in corruption allegations.

These officials represent just a fraction of the over-aged members of the government. Interestingly, President Ruto himself will be 61 by the time of the next election in 2027.

Bold Measures or Empty Promises?

Ruto has also announced several cost-cutting measures to curb government expenditure. These include:

  • Reduction of Advisors by 50%: This directive aims to cut down the number of government advisers by half immediately.
  • Dissolution of 47 State Corporations: The government will dissolve these corporations, which have overlapping functions, and integrate their responsibilities into respective line ministries. Staff will be transferred to ministries and other state agencies.
  • Suspension of Hiring Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS)
  • Removal of Budgets for the First Lady, Second Lady, and the Spouse of the Prime Cabinet Secretary: This move aims to eliminate unnecessary expenditure.
  • Abolishment of Confidential Budgets in Executive Offices: Confidential budgets, including those in the President’s office, will be removed.
  • Reduction of Renovation Budgets by 50%
  • Suspension of New Vehicle Purchases for One Year: This excludes purchases for security agencies.
  • Ban on Non-Essential Travel: All non-essential travel by state officers is suspended.
  • Prohibition of State Officers from Participating in Harambees: The Attorney General is directed to draft legislation to enforce this, aiming for transparent contributions to public, charitable, and philanthropic activities.
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The Public’s Response

Despite these measures, the public remains skeptical. Deadly anti-tax riots have rocked Kenya, with many citizens blaming the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the austerity measures causing widespread economic pain.

Protesters accuse Ruto of being a puppet of the IMF, a sentiment echoed in the graffiti and placards seen during demonstrations.

Will President William Ruto Walk the Talk?

The critical question remains: will President Ruto fire the senior officials in his government who are above 60?

Including figures like Musalia Mudavadi, whose appointment many see as a strategic political maneuver, raises doubts.

People might perceive the directive to retire civil servants at 60 as a populist move aimed at placating the youth and silencing critics.

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The government’s credibility hinges on Ruto’s ability to enforce these directives impartially.

If he fails to act against high-profile figures within his own cabinet, it will underscore the perception of a government more interested in optics than substantive change.

The Larger Picture

Kenya’s economic challenges are significant, and the burden of austerity measures has fallen heavily on the populace.

The IMF’s role in shaping Kenya’s fiscal policies has become a focal point of public discontent. Countries like Nigeria also experiencing backlash against similar economic reforms imposed by multilateral lenders.

Conclusion

President William Ruto’s promise to enforce the retirement of civil servants over 60 and cut government expenditure is under intense scrutiny.

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People are questioning whether he will have the political will to apply these measures to his own cabinet.

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The skepticism among Kenyans is palpable. Ruto’s administration depends on his ability to deliver on his promises and address the deeper economic issues facing the nation.


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