June 18 2020
The growing animosity between the Executive and Judiciary branches of government has reached a low ebb to the point that Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara wrote Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to go on leave pending retirement. That was a nail, if not the last, in the tug-of-war that has seen President Peter Mutharika pouring a tirade against the Judiciary, primarily because he sees it unleashing a ‘soft coup’ to wrest power from him.
Muhara’s missive brought a backlash of condemnation locally and internationally leading to legal minds staging a demonstration against the Executive’s gobbling a cup of tea not theirs.
Much has been said on the debacle that one finds no more power to add or detract. But then, the question of retirement has been mind-boggling for a long while.
There is a big problem in the current situation. The President is at the top rung of the civil service ladder. Funny enough, there is no retirement age for the President as far as the Republican Constitution is concerned. Yet, civil servants have a mandatory 65-year threshold to retire. This, typically, means you can have a situation of a senile President overseeing a civil service that is virile workforce.
It is a wonder why the framers of the Constitution and subsequent crops of lawmakers have never thought of setting up a maximum age for the President as well as parliamentarians.
Where you have a leader who is far too old, other vicious people around are apt to mislead him. Even more dangerous is the fact that the greedy people they trust can actually lead to their very downfall.
Take for instance the fact that the President bought about 400 000 bags of cement from Zimbabwe and Zambia ‘for his personal use’. It can’t be far from the truth to think that it may not be the President who abused the provision to get duty-free material. There is high possibility that some people around him may have taken advantage that he is not in the best of forms agewise to get wind of the abuses.
For argument’s sake, these obscene piles of cement could not be for personal use. They are, as a matter of fact, for personal gains.
In his campaign to retain power, Malawi’s first president Hastings Kamuzu Banda was so aged that in the campaign trail, he could deliver a speech for some time, and forget what he was really doing. Mostly, Mama C. Tamanda Kadzamira would nudge him back to the present, and Kamuzu would go: “Mama has just reminded me, please go and vote for Tambala Wakuda, Tambala Wakuda!”
I am not trying to fight the elderly, but it is my concerted view that there has to be an age limit to the presidency, as well as the parliamentarians. If you ask me the reason, I will tell you it is for the same reason that a maximum age was set for civil servants.
It is really strange that politics is taken as a retirement package. When people work with vigilance in their youth in local as well as international organisations, they see Parliament and the presidency as comfortable retirement. The trouble is that these will have little regard for the affairs of the populace. Their decisions are mired in personal aggrandizement.
As I write, the preparations for the fresh presidential elections on Tuesday are underway. Like most of the citizens, I trod into the election week with faith. The coming election is an oasis of hope that Malawi will be back on track. This is even exposed in the recent findings by the Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) where most respondents believed Malawi was off-track in terms of governance.
As Tuesday draws close, it is my humble feeling the chains of nepotism, regionalism and rampant corruption will be broken. It is my hope that we will stop living in a country where a few people swim in a vast ocean of material possessions when the majority lack the most basic of needs. I believe time is ripe that my fellow Malawians will stop taking the tranquilising dosage of hope to end poverty politicians perpetually propel.
The bell of freedom rings.n