YOUTH WANT VEEP PROTECTED

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YOUNG people in the country are giving suggestions on how the office of Vice President can be constitutionally safeguarded from political persecution.

The office of the Vice President has been under continued partisan oppression since Malawi attained multiparty democracy in 1994.

Many young people are extremely concerned with this ‘undemocratic’ trend as it threatens to plunge Malawi’s democracy into authoritarianism.

Their fear is intensified by the fact that a majority of them will vote for the first time in next year’s polls.

Sam Dalitso is a youthful social media enthusiast, who usually takes to Facebook on matters of public interest.

A resident of Lilongwe, he suggests that Malawi should strongly consider adopting the electoral system where the President and Vice President are elected on a separate vote.

In Philippines, for instance, the constitution clearly defines the terms of reference of holders of both presidential offices so that they don’t obstruct each other’s work.

This kind of system raises the likelihood of electing into office candidates from opposite sides.

Dalitso fears that if the office of the Vice President is not empowered and protected, occupants will always fall prey to what he calls political machinations of those who usually hand pick them as running mates.

He rested his point by stating that its time Malawi learnt from  past mistakes.

In Ackim Ngunguni’s opinion, the Vice President should not be elected together with the President but rather be appointed.

Joseph Kamkwasi opts to differ with Ngunguni by arguing that an appointed Vice President runs the danger of being dismissed anytime.

Kamkwasi, however, has a problem with an appointed Vice President ascending to the office of President despite not being elected at a point in time when the holder of the office is incapable of discharging duties.

Tim Sandram proposes that Malawi should adopt the parliamentary system of electing the presidency.

He further suggests that creating a position of the President, who will head the state and Prime Minister as head of government would be the best way to solve the recurring problem.

Views expressed by these young people are just a tip of the iceberg.

It’s important for authorities to seriously consider their suggestions as youth are very much likely to determine the outcome of next year’s tripartite elections.

Young people account to more than 60 percent of the country’s population.

For the past 24 years no Vice President of Malawi has enjoyed a cordial relationship with the President particularly towards the end of their first five-year term.

Referred to many commentators as “the curse of the vice president”, this oppressive development begun with Justin Malewezi, who clashed with President Bakili Muluzi.

It continued with Cassim Chilumpha during the Bingu wa Mutharika administration.

Chilumpha was deliberately sidelined from government business for almost his whole five-year term as Vice President.

Mutharika fell in the same trap when he sacked his deputy Joyce Banda towards the end of his second term of office.

A similar approach is being taken by his brother, Peter Mutharika. The 79-year-old is seemingly not fond of his deputy Saulos Chilima, 45.

This is evidenced by high-handed measures taken by some members of the ruling DPP who are demanding for Chilima’s candidacy as the party’s president next year.

DPP top officials are, however, making every attempt to silence such calls.

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