HRDC resuscitates presidential age limit debate: APM risks being barred from seeking re-election

Former president and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, risks being barred from seeking re-election in 2025 should the campaign Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has embarked on materialize.

HRDC Northern Region Chapter has embarked on a move aimed at rallying political players to stop grandparents aged 75 and above to stand for political office.

Northern Region HRDC Coordinator Walita Moir Mkandawire has told local media that they are planning to court members of Parliament (MPs) on the issue.

“We want the members of Parliament to help in amending one of the sections in the Republican Constitution so that those who are above 75 years cannot contest for political office,” Mkandawire said.

Their proposal has since received support from People’s Party MP for Mzimba South East, Ackson Kalaile Banda, who said critical positions like that of the president need fresh, serious, and mature people.

“It’s a good development. A crucial job must have a cut-off point to safeguard the interests of the people,” Banda said.

UTM MP for Mzimba Luwerezi Sam Chirwa shared similar views, saying Malawians no longer needs “sign post-presidency”.

“Let’s accept that and give a chance to others to take over when we are tired of old age. There are a lot of things to do after retirement age,” Chirwa said.

Adding on, Karonga Central Malawi Congress Party MP Leonard Mwalwanda said the age limit should also be extended to MPs.

“This is a good idea, but why are they leaving MPs behind? If retirement is now at 60, why should someone be an MP in his or her 70s and 80s? How would the President or MP make good plans for the youth when he or she is over 75 years old?” Mwalwanda said.

Currently, the Malawi Constitution only prescribes 35 years as the minimum age for a presidential candidate but is silent on the maximum age limit for presidential hopefuls.

Sometime in 2018, former Nsanje South West MP Joseph Chidanti Malunga moved a motion in Parliament on the age limit for presidential aspirants, pegging the maximum age at 65.

He sought to do so by seeking an amendment to Section 80(7) of the Constitution.

“We are saying we cannot have very old people holding such a big position [of president]. We already have a 35-year age limit, which restricts some youths below the said age from contesting for the presidency.

“Therefore, if we can also have a limit up there we will not be wrong. The country needs fresh-minded leaders who can make the right decisions on their own,” Mkandawire said.

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