The Message from New Zealand

Published On: January 21, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

On January 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a surprise announcement to resign from the post and retire from politics. Speaking at a news conference, Ms Ardern said she didn’t believe she had the energy to seek re-election in the upcoming polls which will be held in October and said she would step aside for a new leader. “Leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also the most challenging. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges. I no longer have enough in the tank to do the job justice,” she said. Ardern, who was elected the prime minister of New Zealand for the first time in 2017, said, “The only interesting angle that you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.” Ardern, who is only 42, apparently doesn’t have a competitor inside her party nor does she have a strong opposition. Yet she admitted the ‘burnout’ without any hesitation or sense of embarrassment or shame that she’s a human and it’s now time for her to resign from the post of PM and retire from politics. 

But it seems the politicians back here in Nepal are ‘super humans’ and it’s never the ‘time’ for them! Super humans not from the perspective of performance, but in the sense that almost all of them do not retire from politics until they eventually depart this life. There are many examples of this never-ending greed for power. Consider Sher Bahadur Deuba, the president of Nepal’s oldest party, Nepali Congress. Deuba is already almost 80 and has served as the country’s prime minister for five times. But he still yearns for a sixth term! We saw that in the aftermath of the general elections held on November 20 last year. Deuba is not alone here; even a cursory look at the so-called ‘senior’ leaders of almost all parties makes it clear. The current prime minister and chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who has become the PM for a third time, is in his late sixties, and no one knows if it is his final term as the country’s chief executive! CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli who has already served as Nepal’s Prime Minister twice has crossed 70. Yet he has already reached a power-sharing deal with the current PM Dahal that the latter will vacate the PM’s chair for him after two and a half years!

These are just a few names; in fact, the greed for power is a common trait among the politicians here in Nepal, especially the older ones. It seems as the politicians in the country accumulate experience (or just get older?) and rise through the ranks of their political careers, they develop a sense of entitlement and desire for greater control. And this greed for power is intact even in the fag ends of their lives. However, they can definitely learn a positive lesson from New Zealand PM Ardern, if they want to – that they should retire or step aside for the new generation of leaders. It is important for the politicians who have already officially become senior citizens to retire from politics for several reasons. One is that older politicians may not have the energy and stamina to effectively carry out their duties as leaders. This can lead to a lack of productivity and progress in government. Similarly, there are higher chances that they are not familiar with current issues and are not open to new ideas and progressive change. All this can hinder (in the case of Nepal, it has hindered!) the growth and development of the country. They should give younger politicians in their parties the opportunity to take on leadership roles and bring new perspectives and ideas to the table. In conclusion, the message from New Zealand is loud and clear. Let’s hope our so-called senior politicians do not miss or misinterpret this message!

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