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DPP, MCP MPs against age-limit motion

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BY AUDREY KAPALAMULA:

There was uproar in the august House Thursday when Nsanje South Member of Parliament (MP), Joseph Chidanti Malunga, tabled a motion in the House which is seeking to amend the Constitution to provide for the age limit of 65 for one to serve as president in the country.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MPs tore apart the motion, with some of them describing it as childish and provocative.

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Before debate, Malunga told the House that the law only provides a minimum age of 35 while leaving the maximum age limit open for the presidency.

He argued that just as the Bible says in Psalms 90 verse 10, anyone beyond the age of 70 cannot deal with the toils of daily lives; hence, leading a nation is a challenging task and that it requires agility and ability on the part of an incumbent president.

“This is at an individual level but when one becomes head of State, it means that individual has to grapple with all the challenges faced by all the people in that country. In this case, the head of State has to deal with 15 million people,” he said

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He said because of old age, some people have taken advantage of and bring dictatorial leadership in the country.

“We have had situations where some unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the old age. Quite often such situations have led to poor governance of the country, corruption and nepotism which have not assisted this country. When the president is relatively younger, such exploitative situations would not arise,” he said.

Mulanje South MP Bon Kalindo seconded the motion asking the House to critically consider the idea behind the motion.

But when the matter was open for debate, Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba said the motion was immature arguing that the two MPs who presented and seconded the motion are from the Chilima Movement.

”Age has nothing to do with leadership. The older you grow, the wiser you become. We cannot vote someone because he is 45, because he goes to the gym. If Chilima Movement has an agenda, let them tell us not just telling people that he [Vice-President Saulos Chilima] is young. Don’t bring motions that target individuals,” he said.

His comments attracted handshakes with others dishing out money as a way of expressing satisfaction with his remarks.

Mulanje Bale lawmaker, Victor Musowa, also punched holes into the motion and said such issues could bring political instability and war in the country.

“If politics has to be played the way others are playing, this country could have been at war. We represent people that are poor in our communities. If we talk about old age, how about chiefs in our villages, should we say we do not need old chiefs? If Honourable Speaker you have a dustbin closer, let us throw this motion into it,” he said.

But when asked to wind up the debate, Malunga refused to do so saying he was not ready.

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