Legal minds and youth activists have torn into Minster of Finance Goodall Gondwe’s remarks that the country’s presidency is not for babies, in apparent reference to Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Gondwe, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the North, said on Wednesday that running affairs of government is serious business and not for ‘babies’,adding it was wrong to think of replacing incumbent DPP president Peter Mutharika with a baby ahead of the 2019 polls.
His comments follow calls for President Mutharika to leave the stage for his Vice, Saulosi Chilima to be the party’s torch bearer in the 2019 tripartite elections.
Since former First Lady, Calista Mutharika declared her support for Chilima to run for President on the Democratic Progressive Party ticket, several politicians, including Director of Youth in the party Lewis Ngalande and Mulanje South MP Bon Kalindo have also come out to openly declare their support for Chilima.
But Youth and Society Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka said Gondwe’s comments are in sharp contrast with what President Peter Mutharika has been preaching that the youth are the heart and core of his administration and that he is a champion of youth empowerment.
“This seems to be an expression of a frustrated old man who does not want to leave the stage and would want to stick to it by providing such a justification. If you get such sentiments from senior leaders like him, you begin to think that that is the language within the party. Such sentiments stand against youth empowerment, encourage discrimination against young people and should not find space in our democratic society,” he said.
President of Malawi Law Society Mwiza Nkhata said the law provides 35 as the minimum age for anyone to be the President of Malawi.
“Section 80 of the country’s Constitution provides for 35 years so anyone, whether Chilima or anyone who is over 35, can be the President otherwise the rest are party issues,” he said.
Spokesperson in the office of Vice President, Pilirani Phiri declined to comment on the claims that Chilima is a baby who cannot run affairs of the state in the capacity of the President.
Gondwe’s remarks have also attracted criticism among the youth expressing their views on social media.
One youth writing on his Facebook page says the statement shows how the party regards the youth even in its ranks.
“This is a provocative statement to the youth. It clearly reveals how senior people in power regard young people. This is a very dangerous statement Mr. Gondwe,” he said.