Malawi Parliament approves presidential age limit bill to be tabled

Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa has confirmed that the Business Committee of Palriament, which comprises the Speaker of the National Assembly and leaders of political parties in Parliament and sets out business to be discussed,  has approved for tabling a motion

Chidanti Malunga, plans to move presidential age limit motion

Nsanje South West MP Joseph Chidanti-Malunga   plans to move on the age limit of an aspirant in the presidential election to be 65.

The motion seeks to have Section 80 (7) amended to provide for age for one to serve as President.

If approved a new clause (h) will be added to the Section to read: “No person shall be eligible for nomination as a candidate for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President if that person…,(h) “has attained the age limit of 65 or more”.

The Constitution prescribes 35 as the minimum age for a presidential candidate but  is silent on the maximum age for Presidents.

A  Mzuzu-based governance commentator  Makhumbo Munthali advised that mindful of the fact that preparations on the 2019 tripartite elections were at an advanced stage it would be ideal that the debate and the legislative processes towards a constitutional amendment to include specific maximum age limit for the Presidency started as soon as possible but that such law should come into effect in the 2024 Tripartite elections.

Munthali said members of Parliament should approach this issue with sober minds and in the best interest of the nation.

“This would avoid a scenario where other presidential contenders feel they are being targeted so that they are barred from 2019 Tripartite elections”.

Governance commentator Emily Mkamanga stated that when laws are made in Malawi, they are not made with a particular person in mind.

She said laws enacted are not targeting President Mutharika as he will not be the country’s president for life. Just as he took over the presidency from another person, he will also leave it for another person, and the laws will continue being applied.

According to the Report of the Law Commission on the Review of the Constitution (2007), the Law Commission received submissions of the eligibility criteria on age for the President which included a proposal to lower the minimum age and a proposal to introduce a maximum age limit of 70 to ensure holders of the high office are able to keep up with the demands of the office.

One posted her comment on Facebook  recommending that all presidential candidates are subjected to mental and medical checks to assess suitability to execute the duties of the highest political office in the land.

“We needs medical opinion on whether an individual can still effectively execute the office of the president at 75,” commented Grace Nkhoma.

Many youth were incensed by remarks by Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe who  said running the President’s office and government affairs is serious business that requires old people who have experience and not ‘babies’ who are novices in State matters.

Gondwe, who will clock 82 this year,  laughed off suggestions that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should replace President Peter Mutharika with a ‘baby’ during the 2019 polls because he is aging.

Gondwe rubbished former first lady Callista Mutharika  remarks  that Mutharika, at 79,   —who is her brother in-law—would be too old to carry on as President as he would be 84 years old at the time of leaving office in 2024 if re-elected next year.

The former first lady argues that it is normal that thinking capacity levels deteriorate as one gets older, and, therefore, favours Vice-President Saulos Chilima, 45, to lead  Malawi beyond  2019 elections.

However, other commentators say people should avoid age discrimination.

 

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Kholowa
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Kholowa

Kodi amalawi bwanji? Nkhalambazi zaba kokwanila inu achinyamata nawo apezeko mpata wakuba iya! Akukanilila kodi ndalama abazi azadya liti? Tilibe chisoni abale look at our finance minister asaaa amalawi mwandilapulamo bwanji! Nhati tikulephela kugwilizana kankhani ka straight forward ngati aka are we ready to develope malawi? What ashame!

oMachemba
Guest
oMachemba

An upper age limit should not be set in the statutes; as the voting public will take care of that. We already have term limits. Two. And we need to extend this, or introduce a different limit also for all MPs, no less. They get too relaxed in the positions, and corruptible tendencies become tempting and set in. And changing these important parameters should not be left to MPs themselves, for many obvious reasons. If ever a referendum was needed, this is the time and issue. Like everyone else, MPs will try to preserve the status quo that benefits them.… Read more »

Lottie
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Lottie

Why only target the presidential position? Do we not have MPs that are well over 65? Do we not have Chief Executives in various parastatal campanies that are well over 65? Does it mean that young people are the ones that can rule better? There was a young man in Gambia who ruled from a tender age, but turned out to be tyrant. There was also Thomas Sankara in Bukina Faso, a young man who was a leader of integrity. Think about DRC – the list is long with different levels of presidential performance. We have lots of old presidents… Read more »

Ndadabwa
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Ndadabwa

Wow this is shocking to the whole world!!! You can’t set age limit on presidential position. Wow. Next we will hear all MPs should be less than 40 years

Chikande
Guest

Its only a matter of time before some lunatic proposes a bill to the effect that those who once lived in diaspora should not be allowed to contest for the presidency.

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
#DzukaniAmalawi

Just as it is suggested that the aspiring presidential candidates should be subjected to mental and medical checks, the same should probably apply to the qualifying voters. Presidents, MPs and Councillors do not put themselves in the positions….they are voted in by the voting public (whether sane or insane). Malawi would be the first country in the world to sanitise a list of presidential candidates on the basis of health status. That’s backward thinking. Let the people choose who they want to run a country; if their choice is someone who is insane then be it.

NyasaTimes reader
Guest

Malawians ndale zothana mudzasiya liti? Formulating laws which target an individual wont take us any where.

Hutton
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Hutton

“……..retirement age to 50 years so as to partly deal with the youth unemployment ……….”

Hutton
Guest
Hutton

I totally agree with the observations by Makhumbo. The proposal must link the age limit to retirement age. Instead of calling the proposal, presidential age limit, let’s call it ELECTORAL AGE LIMIT because the limit must apply to MPs and councillors as them too have prescribed entry age. The proposal must also include term limits for MPs to be in line with the presidential term limit or perhaps giving MPs one more term so long as they fall within the prescribed age limit. The retirement age needs to be trimmed back to 50 years so as to partly deal with… Read more »

Pephias
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Pephias

Much as the idea is good for the nation, but the timing is very poor. It would be very difficult for members of parliament to look at the proposed amendment with sober mind. The elections are less than 12 months away. One of potential candidate will be affected if the amendment is approved. Objectivity require reasoning when bringing amendments.

The best approach was to wait and let the elections pass. After a year, then bring the amendment. That would have removed perception of targeting somebody.

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