Proposal to limit presidential age in Malawi draws mixed reaction

Debate has ensued over the move by Nsanje South West MP Joseph Chidanti-Malunga  who has filed a motion to trim President age limit to 65.

Malunga: No old age presidents

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 renowned governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali  has welcomed the motion but suggested the 75  years might be “more ideal and realistic “as compared to Chidanti’s suggested 65.

“As I had said last time, if in our Constitution we were able to set a minimum age limit for someone to qualify to compete for the Presidency then certainly it is logical to also have a maximum age limit. It would be naive and gullible enough as a country to solely live such a decision to political parties conventions as suggested by the Law Commission of 2006 when in practice we know that such forums are merely monopolised by the party leaders in order to advance their interests,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.

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

“However, as I had earlier suggested while this amendment on the maximum age limit should be done in the current sitting of Parliament, it would be important that its operationalisation should start in the 2024 elections. This would address the fears that some may have that this motion is being tabled simply to tactically stop some Presidential candidates from standing in 2019 elections purely on political reasons rather than age,” he stated.

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, 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 beyond  2019 elections.

However, other commentators say people should avoid age discrimination.

 

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#DzukaniAmalawi
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#DzukaniAmalawi

Under democracy anyone should be allowed to contest and stand for presidency even on their death bed unless they’re incapacitated one way or the other. If 18 years is considered to be an adult age then let them contest and if 94 years is good for the people then let vote for these old and dying species. That’s called democracy which doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age. Its the voters/people who have the power to make a decision as to who they believe would serve them well and look after their interests. As far as I know the constitution… Read more »

Mesimadzi
Guest
Mesimadzi

Abale movement inayamba kale. So Chidanti was being used by the movement to bring down the government through maize gate hoax? When that failed the same Malunga is using another tactic. Mulepheranso. Amalawi anadzuka kalekale. Zonse zomwe JB, Chakwera, Chilima and company, mukunamizana sizitheka. APM is winning again.

Samuel
Guest
Samuel

Ok thanks malunga and kalisita polimbana ndi ankhalambafe. Pokonza lamulolanulo mulembemonso kuti nkhalambafe tisamavote nao coz vote yankhalamba ndi nkhalamba yemwe. Kalisita munthu omvetsa chisoni mmaganizo. How old was Bingu when you married him? maso akowo amangoona ukalamba wa mwamuna anzako basi? Shame on you. Tiyamba kampeni ya ankhalamba tione zitha bwanji.

LEGO
Guest

What does it concern with Calista here?Za ziii no point

Chechamba
Guest
Chechamba

Our laws already forsaw that age limit is an important factor, it affects ones performance in a big way.Age limit is already applicable in the Civil Service(60 years old mainstraim civil service and 70? for the greedy and selfish Judiciary). Age limit should have been applicable to Councillors,MPs and Presidents long time ago if this bunch of the so called Politicians were not as greedy and selfish as they have been or will continue to be. In the absence of the law on age limit, there could have been no problem at all beacuase the voters themselves could have an… Read more »

Kunkuyu
Guest
Kunkuyu

The retirement age in Malawi is 60. If the constitution has to be amended to provide for a limit, it should be 60. Anyone who is 60 and above should not be allowed to contest

Tozer Tsono
Guest
Tozer Tsono

Just wondering, if you exclude those aged 75, should they even vote since their capacity to think, according to Social and Physiological scientist like Callista, Malunga, Lunguzi, etc, without evidence, claim that old people have diminished thinking? Not every youthful politician is an example of a great thinker nor do they have same strength. Some youth can run a marathon while similar placed youths or same age can’t last a mile. We need all ages to participate in politics. Strict enforcement of laws must guide both young and old.

LEGO
Guest

That’s why Malawi will never go forward as long as we have got people like you who always think negative things on a productive point

Nalingula
Guest
Nalingula

Bakili Muluzi was in his 50’s when he became president compared to Kamuzu who was in his 60’s

Mesimadzi
Guest
Mesimadzi

You can propose whatever you want but the effective date shall be 24 hours after the release of the 2019 electoral results. Chidanti if you are realistic include the following in your proposals:
1. Reinstate the recall provision.
2. Set term limits and age limit for MPs.

Nalingula
Guest
Nalingula

Let’s be realistic.Its got nothing to do with age.But the Vision and will power to make things happen.Kamuzu Banda was already in his 60’s when he returned to Malawi. He made things happen. We can not punish all Old People just because of One Clueless Old man.Bakili Muluzi was in his 40 ‘s when he became President. Did that make him Any Brilliant?Bingu was Old when he begun his first Term.But showed some brilliance Until some Tribalists hijacked his Second term.

Tozer Tsono
Guest
Tozer Tsono

Sorry my computer froze at the time of posting. So please use this edited post instead. What is the problem with Malawians? You hate discrimination, nepotism, cronyism, tribalism, regionalism yet you are open to age discrimination. This is a slippery slope with no end in sight. Next you will justify with the simplicity of a drunk that only those with a Masters degree can hold the office of president, then those with a PHD, then only those who speak a language common to each region, etc. You are admitting shamelessly that democracy cannot provide for a people’s choice. In your… Read more »

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