Saulos Chilima is eligible for 2025 presidential polls, same way Justine Malewezi contested in 2004
Listen and Report to me no one else including the Vice President
Let me start with a disclaimer. I am not a Chilima supporter or indeed of any political party or candidate. In saying all that I want to say I am just using my birthright to express my views from a layman’s understanding on what I think is the position of the law on an interesting subject.
I want to join the current but trite debate on whether or not Vice-President Saulos Chilima is eligible to stand as a presidential candidate in 2025. The debate is likely to recur as we edge closer to the next Presidential elections in two years’ time.
Chilima has served as State Vice-President for two consecutive terms. First, under the Peter Mutharika’s administration, from 2014 to 2019, extended to June 2020 by the Constitutional Court ruling.
Second, under Lazarus Chakwera, from June 2020 to 2025. Quoting Chapter VIII Section 83 clause 1 of the Malawi Constitution, some people think the door is all but padlocked against Chilima to serve this country in the highest office.
The clause stipulates that the President shall hold office for five years from the date that his or her oath of office is administered. The same clause states that the President, First Vice-President and Second Vice-President may serve in their respective capacities for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
Both, politicians and their supporters are divided on the matter. So far, it looks like the majority of those who have taken the stand that Chilima will not stand as a presidential candidate in 2025 do not actually want the man to ascend to the high office.
They are merely politicking and advancing their political wishes. If Chilima wants to present himself as a presidential candidate in 2025, nothing will bar him from doing so.
While he will be barred from standing as a vice-president—because of the Third Term issue—as a presidential candidate, Chilima will not be seeking a Third Term in office. He will be seeking a first term in office as State President of this country.
Former president Bakili Muluzi was barred from seeking a third term in office because he had already served two maximum consecutive terms. Chilima has not served as State President of this country.
It was on the same basis that former vice-president Justin Chimera Malewezi (may his soul continue resting in eternal peace) contested for the presidency in 2004 after he had served as State Vice-President of Malawi from 1994 to 2004 in the United Democratic front-led administration.
So where are the anti-Chilima diehards getting this illusion that the UTM Party leader man is all but finished politically because he cannot now move vertically on the political ladder? If they don’t want to see his face on the ballot paper, they better come with another prank. Or better still they should start strategizing now about how they can floor him on the ballot.
The same Third Term clause which slammed the door against Muluzi’s face when he sought to stand again after serving as president from 1994 to 2004, did not stop Malewezi from standing as a presidential candidate in 2004 where he garnered 2.5 percent of the votes.
Similarly, the same clause which allowed Malewezi to contest in 2004 as a presidential candidate after serving as Vice-President for a maximum of two consecutive terms, will also gleefully roll out the red carpet for Chilima to try his luck for the highest office in the land.
Legal practitioners are aware of this and are not coming in the open to give their legal opinion because they don’t like providing pro bono services knowing very well they can make a killing out of this. The Malewezi precedence is a case law that speaks in Chilima’s favour.
But since there is no shortage of time wasters all around us, some people will still try to stop Chilima from contesting as a presidential candidate in 2025. They will just be choking the courts with unnecessary baggage.