Dedza East legislator Juliana Lunguzi (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) has said she will propose a a constitutional change that will put the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.
Lunguzi took it to Twitter to say she is ready to move the constitutional amendment bill as private members bill.
She wants to put a measure in the constitution barring anyone younger than 35 or older than 75 to be president and even Cabinet Minister.
The Constitution prescribes 35 as the minimum age for a presidential candidate but is silent on the maximum age for Presidents.
“Am looking for motions at the upcoming sitting of Parliament. Let me move a motion to amend our Constitution on age limit for those in Public offices including the President…and of course finance ministers. Then our debate will be continued.” Lunguzi tweeted.
Since she twitted about the presidential age limit, the public opinion on social media has been overwhelmingly in support of Lunguzi.
Her backers say that would help to stop ageing autocrats clinging on to power.
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.
Lunguzi said she was 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.
While opening a meeting of senior DPP officials attended by over 200 party members in the Northern Region at Katoto Secondary School Hall in Mzuzu on Wednesday, Gondwe rubbished former first lady Callista Mutharika remarks that Mutharika, at 79, 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 the DPP in the 2019 elections.
But Gondwe said: ““Government is not for babies, government is for people with experience, and Peter is a man of experience, education, and above all, a person who behaves better and well to everyone.”
Professor Thandika Mkandawire, a Swedish economist of Malawian descent, wrote on Nyasanet that the time for aged leaders is gone.
Mkandawire said he was together with Mutharika during both the struggle for independence and democratisation, which he argued are enough contributions from him.
“I still can’t figure out why he [Mutharika] believes he has the energy and capacity for the incredibly arduous and complex struggle for developing Malawi. The most successful presidents in the last 20 years—the Meles [Zenawi] of Ethiopia, Rwandan President [Paul] Kagame have been young with huge amounts of energy.
“In addition, we can’t have a Minister of Finance [Gondwe] in the 80s. It makes no sense and this is beginning to show in some of the confusion in fiscal policy. And it is a joke among both donors and investors.
“We, the old should sit on the side, doling out our wisdom when demanded. But running a State or economy? No,” he said.
He said having such old guards was not fair to a population that is so young and so full of dreams and energy.
However, other commentators say people should avoid age discrimination.
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