Abusing old age


At the behest of the State House, The Daily Times of Tuesday this week carried a correction of a story that Sunday Times of November 17 wrote and made reference to the age of President Peter Mutharika.

Unlike what we have always believed that Mutharika is 79 years old at the moment and that during the 2019 General Elections he will be 81, State House clarified that, in fact, he was born on July 18, 1940 and that makes him 77 years old today.

This means by the time he is a DPP presidential candidate in 2019, he will be 79.


I fully understand why the State House Communications Department was eager to make this correction in view of the currency that age of presidents has carried lately, especially with the events raging in Zimbabwe where a 93 year old Robert Mugabe tried to cling to power when everyone said his time was up.

As for us here in Malawi, the debate of age versus the High Office of the Presidency gained currency two weeks ago when the President told his audience in Mzuzu that he is a youth and fit, and that come 2019 when he will 79, he will be ready and raring to go.

But let us face facts squarely in the face.


The President is just demonstrating empty bravado. Age, old age, for that matter, does count in one’s performance at any job, whether it is farming or indeed being in office at the State House, carrying the responsibility of over 17 million Malawians on your shoulders.

To show that age matters, retirement in the Civil Service is mandatory at 60.

This is in realization that as a person grows old, his or her faculties also deteriorate as your body inches towards expiry.

If a mere civil servant at some corner of an obscure government ministry or department is made to go home at 60 because we are beginning to doubt his or her mental faculties, what about a whole president who looks after the welfare of us all?

It makes no sense.

What does not make sense even further is the fact that we were made to trample upon the

rights of the energetic youth full of innovation, determination and unbridled stamina in our Constitution, by barring them from running for presidency until they are 35.

The reason is because we are afraid of the potency of youth and intimidated with its rashness to get things done which we mistake for immaturity.

Who is more immature and lethargic than an individual who is over 80 but still having a crack at presidency?

That is why such leaders are taken advantage of by scheming family members, corrupt cronies and devious big businesses to give up court as age sets in.

How many stories have we heard of old men being forced to sign important documents, both of personal nature, such as wills, or indeed state documents that give away certain advantages to ruffians and scheming minds?

Not that old age is a bad thing, after all.

It should actually be beautiful and fulfilling to sit at a fireplace, telling beautiful stories to your grand children as you glide towards your sunset, waiting for meet the maker, but not running affairs of the State.

And the repercussions can be bad too because citizens of the 21st century have a limited amount of patience when they see that their country is being raped in broad daylight through an old man or woman they call president, being taken advantage of because of old age.

I do not need to seek an example from very far.

The problems that are raging in Zimbabwe are down to a younger scheming wife taking advantage of a husband who is way into old age and whose only pastime is sleeping his days away.

Today a once beautiful country—the bread basket of Africa—is plunged into a big and constitutional crisis because a wife convinced a husband to do away with life-long friends who shared danger with him in the bushes of Mozambique and Zambia in the war and struggle for self rule.

Because the friends have had enough of the 51- year- old Grace Mugabe’s shenanigans, who wanted her G40 friends to surround the President, Zimbabwe has exploded in our full view.

As for this country, it is being governed by people way into their 70s. Are we surprised that they are being taken advantage by the young people that have surrounded them and are enriching themselves in our full glare?

Are we surprised that our economy is a seasonal one and largely runs itself? Goodall Gondwe should be telling fireside stories to his grandchildren and forget about macroeconomic stability business.

There are young people capable of reading the changes and can come up with new ways of doing things and not the archaic ones that have not served us all these years.

I maintain that old people should be enjoying their retirement and not running our affairs when we know that they cannot do a good job because their bodies cannot allow them to do so.

It is abusing the old people.

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