Presidential candidates’ age,  qualifications debate resurfaces: Analysts settle for 70 years for Malawi leader

A debate to limit the age of presidential candidates to 70 years  and  proposals to include in the country’s laws presidential candidates’ qualifications has generated a lot of interest.

Delegates locked in a conference in Lilongwe to review Electoral Reforms in readiness for the forthcoming General Elections–Photos by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times.,
DPP’s Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba (right) and United Democratic Front (UDF)  Secretary General, Kandionamaso Padambo, taking notes during the conference

Some delegates to an electoral reforms review conference in Lilongwe which was organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust argued that  a minimum age of 35 and nationality are not enough qualifications for one to run in the presidential office.

The Law Commission report recommended at least a bachelors degree for one to run for office of President.

Other delegate were keen on limiting the age of a presidential candidate to a maximum of 70 years.

This would effectively close the door for  President Lazarus Chakwera to seek a second term in 2025.

President Chakwera is 65 this year andwill not be eligible to contest the presidency during the next polls set for 2025 if the proposal is adopted  and  constitutional amendment goes through.

Chancellor College-based political scholar, Ernest Thindwa, and Mzuzu-based social and political commentator, Emily Mkamanga,  in an interview with Nyasa Times said  70 years is the most ideal age limit for candidates seeking to be elected to the highest office of the President of the Republic of Malawi.

Thindwa, in response to a questionnaire from Nyasa Times said although there is no definitive age during which a person is likely to lose mental sanity, it is important that those seeking election to the State Presidency should be within their active and productive ages.

He said there is evidence to suggest generally that individual productivity and mental capacity tend to decline significantly when one is 70 and above.

“Age limit is important for the office of presidency. Critical decisions that can determine the fate of the country revolve around the presidency. As such holders of such an office need to be in total control of their mental faculties,” explained Thindwa.

“As humans, there is an age limit beyond which one cannot be in control of his/her sanity. What we are dealing with is a question of legitimacy and trust. If the holder of the office has lost sanity due to age, any decision or action emanating from the office when the incumbent for reasons of age is incapacitated would be devoid of both legitimacy and citizen trust which could send the country into the path for political turmoil,” he added.

Thindwa emphasized that the risk of electing individuals aged 70 and/or above is that the country risks having an illegitimate individual and/or a cartel of people assuming governmental and presidential powers in the event the incumbent’s brain suffers from grave diminishing mental capacity owing to age.

He said since Malawi adopted a democracy where the exercise of presidential powers is vested not in a proxy individual or group, but in an individual who is directly elected by universal suffrage, it is extremely important that the country should demonstrate that ‘we are a progressive society that can deal with political risks through collective action divorced from partisan lenses’.

On the other hand, Mkamanga said the Office of the President of the Republic is a very tasking position; hence, it is important that those seeking its election must be at his or her active stage so that if elected, they will not just rely on people, but use their own judgment when dealing with multiparty system of government.

“Hence, I feel the best age limit should be between 40 and 70. These are the ages when one can easily stand the pressures of government. The dangers are that they can be easily misled by people around them,” she said.

At the two-day meeting that ended on Friday in Lilongwe, other issues included a proposed Constitutional (Amendment) Bill on adoption of 50-plus-one percent electoral system, reinstatement of the recall provision for members of Parliament (MPs), a president changing political parties after election and a review of constitutional bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Malawi Human Rights Commission(MHRC).

The aim of the meeting was to review Electoral Law reforms and chart a path for their adoption before the next tripartite election.

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Kalichero
9 months ago

If retirement age in Malawi is 60. Why have old presidents?

Zio ine
Zio ine
9 months ago

Consider saying that someone contest should run the full five years without reaching 70 that means all those who will reach 70 in the midst of their term should not be allowed. The hiring of civil servants passed 70 should be stopped.

The Judge
The Judge
9 months ago

Some times we Malawians we are just stupid by nature! The Electoral law says, a person should run for two terms in the Office as the President, it is not giving us the age of him or her, now if we want to use the age as we are trying to do, this will seriously bring confusion. If that is the case, the second term for Chakwera will be no Election but he will choose who can take over because of his age! Zupusa basi! And we can have a deliberate motion asking for the same age to 75. Look… Read more »

Steve
Steve
9 months ago

You are wasting your time discussing trivial issues. According to the Prophecy from Prophet Liabunya, “He already prophesied that Dr Chakwera will rule Malawi for two terms ie 10years”. No more or no less. Dr Chilima will come to power after Dr Chakwera in 2030 and its Dr Chakwera who will help Chilima to Win elections in 2030, that’s according to Prophet Liabunya Prophecy. Don’t bother about age limit in order to ban Chakwera in 2025.lf God has already made Plans for 2025 continuation of Dr Chakwera as Malawi President, who are you to stop him(God). Remember, in every human… Read more »

mayi
mayi
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Mr. Steve,
God we know, but can you remind some of us who Mr. Liabinya is?
Honestly, we are looking at a states man of Madiba type in Chakwera. Period.

Kalichero
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Chakwera should rule us for 1 year only.

Me you
Me you
9 months ago

Those who don’t like old presidents should simply vote for the younger ones. Who told you that people below 50 never lose sanity?

Nalingula
Nalingula
9 months ago

Just because One Dull President was Over 80 does not make Every 80 year old Dull or Incompetent …May it must be No One shall seek a First Term at the Age of 80 …You can not judge Everyone on the Performance of Someone Who Failed in Every Ministry he was Given But we Expected Him to Perform Miracles as President…

Sikelo Gonani
Sikelo Gonani
9 months ago

Okay I think that 30-85 is OK for Malawi

Verokotinyo
Verokotinyo
9 months ago

Mwayambapo. Targeting someone e when making laws is narrow minded. If Peter messed up at 80 doesn’t mean everyone will do the same. Mukhaula

Ndata Boy
9 months ago

It should be 40 – 80 not going beyond, very few people younger than 70 take politics serious. the likes of Atupele Muluzi if given such positions… will only sell this nation to Chines and Indians

Mangochi Kabwafu
Mangochi Kabwafu
9 months ago

Total rubbish and what a waste money and time. Are you telling me Americans are stupid? What’s the job or use of vice presidents? Are they not meant to take over in the event of presidents death or incapacity? What are you saying of Emanuel Macron or Austrias prime ministers (Sebastian Kurtz) ages at the time of their respective goverments take over?

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