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
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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