Term limits for Malawi MPs, groups campaign

Two of Malawi’s vocal organisations have said the country needs to come up with  term limits for Members of Parliament (MPs) as is the case with presidents to facilitate substantial development in their constituencies.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Council for Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi (CONGOMA) observed that the absence of term limits for the MPs does not only violate the principles of democracy but also denies young and the deprived
contenders a chance to lead.

They also observed that MPs who “over serve” a constiotuency tend to take for granted the people in their areas that they stop carrying out tangible development projects.

The two organisations noted that legislators who have served for a long time have better financial muscle and enjoy incumbency privileges, which give them an edge over the young as well as aspirants who lack resources during election campaign period.

Opposition leader John Tembo (L): The longest serving lawmaker in Malawi
Opposition leader John Tembo (L): The longest serving lawmaker in Malawi

“Young and poor aspirants can’t get into leadership positions like becoming MPs because the old and incumbent legislators use everything at their disposal to cling to power for life,” said CONGOMA Chairperson, Voice Mhone.Chris Chisoni, CCJP National Coordinator, also observed that there was no social economic development in most constituencies whose incumbent legislators have served for more than 10 years.He said the term limits would thus help in facilitating material development in the constituencies adding that although it also depends on the commitment from individual parliamentarians.

According to the country’s constitution, Members of Parliament can serve a constituency for as long as they are voted back while presidents can only serve two terms of five years each then pack up and go.

Currently, Malawi Parliament has 80-year-old John Tembo, who has been in the august House since the 70’s .

Tembo, who is also president of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), has never lost his Dedza East constituency since he started serving it under the same party.

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