No country for corrupt old men

The main goal of life – some might say life’s only goal – is, of course, to retire next to a golf course. (Getty)

The main goal of life – some might say life’s only goal – is, of course, to retire next to a golf course. (Getty)


The right age for retirement, I believe, is the point where you’re still young enough to realise it can’t be spelled without “tire” and old enough not to bother spelling it correctly to begin with.

I am too young to retire because I have to spell words correctly, otherwise I don’t get paid. I also have little to no money stored in a retirement fund, or any fund for that matter. And that’s bad because retirement without money is what society calls “down and out”, which usually means you spend your time on a mattress under a bridge.
It’s one of life’s many reminders that keeps us employed until we might as well jump off a bridge.

The main goal of life – some might say life’s only goal – is, of course, to retire next to a golf course. Not only does waiting for death next to a fairway prove that you spent the best years of your life well enough to play the worst golf of your life, it also gives you something to do.

I don’t know whether the fear of boredom is keeping our president in office, or whether he’s still under the impression that being president of the country is what he was born to do. Maybe he’s just sensible about the whole thing. Studies have shown life expectancy has increased by 20 years between 1950 and 2015. That means more and more people are facing the horrible prospect of outliving their pension if they keep on living so well.

One way to prevent that, the experts say, is to retire later – say at 95 – to ensure you have enough money to see you well into your 100s. Zuma is a sprightly 73 now, which means if he keeps showering regularly he might be in office for another 20 years. I know, unthinkable.

Luckily, I’m sucking those numbers out of my thumb. Statistics show the old warhorse will retire at 80, leaving him seven more tragic years to steer the ship. Unfortunately, that’s also seven more years than we can bear.

Fact is, we have a questionable senior at the helm at the moment. He laughs out of turn and spends money he doesn’t have on things he doesn’t need. He forgets and mispronounces. At 73, our president is displaying the mental frailties of a centenarian and, perhaps worst of all, taking legal advice from quacks just because they’re younger than him.

At age 37, without the foresight to stash money in a retirement fund, I’m looking at at least another 33 years of steering my own sorry ship to afford living off dog food when I retire. Chances are the only way I’ll retire early is to do such a bad job of my working life that the whole world wants me to retire.

“Just go,” they’ll say. “Take your laptop and your questionable grammar and your shallow jokes and go.” And I’ll do it with a smile.

Ancient wisdom teaches us that there is no summit in life. That we simply keep climbing, and the higher we go, the better the view gets. Which means retirement should really just be the start of another ascent. So take note, dear president, things will probably improve dramatically if you quit right now.

  Hansie Smit is a freelance writer

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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