By Bernard Mhone:
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Northern Region vice-president, Goodall Gondwe, has repeated that the State presidency is not for babies, despite attracting public backlash when he first uttered the remarks last year.
In 2018, Gondwe spat fire at State Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, at the height of the governing party’s in-fighting when some of the DPP members rooted for Chilima to take over from President Peter Mutharika.
Chilima, who was Mutharika’s running mate during the 2014 general elections, went on to form opposition party UTM and he will contest for the presidency.
Gondwe, who is also Finance and Economic Planning Minister, said this on Saturday during a political rally he conducted in Katawa Ward Mzuzu, alongside DPP regional governor Kenneth Sanga.
Some youth activists have described Gondwe as unrepentant.
Addressing the meeting after Sanga spoke on the same subject but without hitting the nail on the head, Gondwe openly said only mature politicians are fit to be State presidents.
“My responsibility is to make sure that the youth are well-mentored so as to inherit high positions we are holding. That is why the government should have Peter Mutharika because he knows how to run the government.
“Bana bala tiwasunge makora [let us mentor the youth]. That is why I say the government is not for young people; not for babies. It is for people like Mutharika,” Gondwe said, attracting applause.
In an interview after the rally, Gondwe said wisdom is a prerequisite for running the country.
“The youth are very strong physically; therefore, they should be very helpful in the growth of the country. But the elderly have a particular advantage because they have accumulated a lot of wisdom and the government requires wisdom.
“The youth should partner the elderly as leaders of the government to have a better government of Malawi,” Gondwe said.
But in a separate interview, Youth and Society Executive Director, Charles Kajoloweka, who is championing youths’ participation in politics through the Youth Decide Campaign, said Gondwe is a threat to progress.
Kajoloweka said Gondwe is making such sentiments due to his old age, which, he claimed, limits his thinking capacity.
“I would qualify Gondwe as an old school politician who does not believe in young people.
“We condemned his first speech on the same and we demanded an apology but we have learnt that [some] old people do not learn from their mistakes. Instead of focusing on age, personalities must be focusing on issues,” he said.
Kaloloweka said it was sad that Gondwe contradicts the role of Mutharika in promoting the youth as a Youth Champion in Africa ambassador.
He said Gondwe’s speech demonstrates that DPP does not care about youth empowerment in politics.
Malawi Electoral Commission records indicate that half of the presidential aspirants belong to the youthful age bracket.
Recent Malawi Housing and Population Census indicates that the youth make up 51 percent of the population.
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