A consortium of Civil Society Organisations fighting for the rights of the elderly, Malawi Network of Older Person Organisations (MANEPO) has strongly condemned the proposed parliamentary Private Member’s Bill calling for the constitutional amendment to render any person above 80 years of age ineligible to contest for the office of president.
The Condemnation follows the ongoing hot debate on the plans by the Mulanje Central lawmaker, Kondwani Nankhumwa to present to Parliament the infamous Private Members’ Bill proposing for a constitutional amendment.
In a statement issued on Tuesday signed by MANEPO’s Executive Director, Andrew Kavala categorizes the proposed bill as ‘ageism’, constituting biases, discrimination, totally bullying individuals and groups of people based on age, infringing upon the democratic rights to participate in the democratic processes as enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
“Excluding those aged 80 years and above to participate and exercise their democratic rights is quite disgusting and unacceptable, besides, MANEPO wonders whether the bill would also bar such individuals from voting, becoming members of parliament or assuming the role of the Speaker of the National Assembly,” reads part of the statement.
While acknowledging MANEPO to be apolitical in its entirety the statement further states that it will continue standing by its call values to promoting the rights of older persons to lead dignified, active, healthy, and secure lives.
“Our goal is for older persons everywhere in Malawi to enjoy the full spectrum of their human rights regardless of their age and to be free from all forms of ageism and discrimination,” MANEPO rights.
Meanwhile, the former Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, Peter Mukhitho has joined a band wagon of those condemning the proposed bill stating that it only presents a violation of fundamental Human Rights.
“The bill only proposes to infringe upon the very fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, such as the right to equality, non-discrimination, political participation, and freedom of expression,” said Mukhitho.
The former Malawi Police chief further said age-based restrictions unfairly deprives otherwise qualified candidates of opportunities based solely on their age without a compelling justification.