There is a hypocrisy going around that there must be an age limit for presidential candidates while members of parliament and councilors can be discharging their duties as long as they wish or up to the time they are booted out of power by the electorate.
With this background, 10 reasons are hereby presented to vehemently oppose the proposal of imposing age limit on presidential candidates. Frankly speaking, this hypocrisy must stop forthwith.
1.Say no to gerontophobia
In Malawi, there is a tendency by the youth to hate the elderly for no apparent reason.
For example, it all started with President Chakwera promising the elderly a monthly stipend as it is done in other countries like South Africa. Three years down Chakwera’s rule, the elderly are still waiting for President Chakwera to fulfill his promise. It is unfortunate that some elderly have died without getting the promised monthly elderly grant.
Furthermore, a number of incidents have been reported in which some elderly have been beaten, poisoned and ultimately killed on suspicions of practising witchcraft.
As if the aforementioned discriminatory incidents are not enough, why should Malawi Constitution or Malawi electoral laws change to promote gerontophobia, the hate and fear of the old people? For sure, Malawians can do better than this.
2.Don’t compare apples to mangoes (Avoid analogy fallacy)
The fact that both mangoes and apples are fruits does not imply that they both have all the same attributes. For instance, boiled mangoes are tasty but try to boil an apple and tell me later how it tastes.
In the same vein of logic, proponents of presidential age limit argue that civil service has a particular retirement age, then why not the presidency?
By this time, you are now convinced that this fallacious argument assumes that both the presidency and the civil service have same attributes. Do they?
One crucial difference is that a presidential candidate must be aged at least 35 years but I once worked in the common civil service as young as at 24.
3. No evidence that the elderly are always non-performers
Proponents of presidential age limit assume that all youthful leaders are good performers and all old people are non-performers. This argument is fallacious too.
For the sake of argument, let us compare the first three years of both Lazarus Chakwera and Bingu wa Mutharika regimes. You will agree with me that Bingu outperformed Chakwera but yet Bingu was older than Chakwera. For sure, Age is just a number.
4. People age differently
Physiologically, people age differently. Some age faster than others.
Unfortunately, age limit assumes that all people start aging at one particular age. This is wrong.
5. Change of Constitution or Malawi electoral laws shouldn’t be effected to score cheap political points
Truth must be told, it is an open secret now that the presidential age limit proposal is aimed at eliminating the aged Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika from the presidential race as he is considered to be a threat to other presidential candidates.
Apart from that, it is dangerous to change Malawi laws with an aim of favouring or discriminating a single individual. This may backfire in the long run.
6. The Malawi Constitution already has safety valves
As I already pointed out that whether a presidential candidate is aged or not, there is still a chance of the president becoming a non-performer.
Fortunately, our constitution explicitly provides for the impeachment of a non-performing president.
7. Old age is wisdom
It is widely believed that wisdom comes with experience. Caution must be taken not to confuse intelligence with wisdom. For instance, a youth can be intelligent but may not wise due to lack of the required experience. Indeed long-term experience coupled with intelligence leads to wisdom.
Malawi needs a president who is not only intelligent but also wise.
For instance, how can one say it is wisdom for the middle-aged Chakwera to devalue the Kwacha abruptly making the life of the local citizen unbearable?
For sure, it is not wisdom for the middle-aged Chakwera to squander government coffers on international and domestics trips while preaching austerity economic measures.
Furthermore, it can’t be dubbed wisdom for youthful Chilima and Chakwera to promise desperate jobless Malawians a million jobs only to retrench over 600, 000 employees within their first year of tenure.
In addition, one cant say that it is wisdom for youthful Chilima to cheat Malawians that Tonse Alliance Government would stamp out corruption only to be charged with bribery now while serving as a vice president. What a shame!
Moreover, it can’t be wisdom for the youthful Kondwani Nankhumwa to challenge his party president Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika only later to be expelled from the party and lose the position of the leader of opposition in parliament. What a goof!
Unashamedly, youthful Atupele Muluzi failed to exude wisdom when he resigned from being a party president, the position to which people elected him.
8. Winner of presidential election is people’s choice.
It is the voter who decides which person should lead Malawi. It is in this line of reasoning that it is unfair to limit people’s choices.
Flashback, Kamuzu Banda and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) castigated Bakili Muluzi that he was once a thief of six pounds. Surprisingly, Malawians later voted Bakili Muluzi into power in 1994.
What this means is that if people want the elderly to be their president in 2025, that will be their choice. Therefore, it is advisable o not put unnecessary limits on voter’s choices.
9. Malawians do not age faster than Americans
There is no evidence that shows that Malawians age faster than Americans. In America, Joe Biden (81) and Donald Trump (77) are indeed old people but yet the American Constitution allows them to stand for presidency.
Back home, we want to put spanners in our constitution to discriminate against the elderly. This is a shame.
10. The Malawi electoral system already has controls to fish out undesirable presidential candidates.
The current Malawi electoral system ensures that the winner of presidential elections must get at least 50% plus 1 of the cast votes. This is called absolute majority.
What this means is that if at least half of the total cast votes are not in favour of a particular candidate, that candidate becomes an undesirable presidential material.
In conclusion, in view of the prevailing circumstances, we are vehemently opposing any amendments to the Malawi Constitution or Malawi electoral laws to include age limit for the presidential candidates. Let Malawians have more freedom to choose their leaders without unnecessary limits.