Dar es Salaam. One day after President John Magufuli said he would not allow his successor to be older than him, political pundits yesterday reacted differently with some insisting that the qualifications of a person should be considered for the top seat rather than the age.
While swearing-in the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and two other ministers on Monday, President John Magufuli hinted that the party’s Central Committee (CC) will not endorse a candidate older than himself.
Even though the now 61-year-old Commander in Chief’s thoughts seem not to be very strange in all the CCM-led governments since independence, the statement has since attracted mixed feelings.
With some of the political analysts saying the President seemed to have already prepared a young person to succeed him, others opined that during his (President) rain he had shown faith in the youth and provided opportunities for the group in the top leadership of the Nation.
United Democratic Party (UDP), political analyst and cadre Andrew Bomani told this newspaper yesterday that the move to have a young President began when Jakaya Kikwete ran for president in 2005, using it as his political capital.
However, Mr Bomani said it was important to look at the qualifications of the person who wants to be President and that his age should not be a barrier to his or her goals to serve the people.
“It is time to look at one’s qualities which sometimes go hand in hand with one’s experience. The issue of age should not be a barrier, let’s look at the qualifications of the person applying for presidency,” he said.
Mr Bomani cited the example of US President-elect Joe Biden who has been elected President at the age of 78 and set a record for being the oldest President-elect.
The pundit insisted that Americans were not looking at his age but at the qualities he possessed.
With a similar opinion, a political analyst Prof Gaudence Mpangala said President Magufuli was expressing his views and that he would probably like young people to lead the country.
However, he challenged him, saying that anyone with a reputation should be President regardless of his age…
“It is normal for an outgoing President to prepare a successor, of course he may have someone who he deems fit to inherit his position,” said Prof Mpangala.
For his part, Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC)-General Secretary Doyo Hassan Doyo said the President’s statement laid the ground of hope for the youth but also reminded those around him not to expect the presidency at an old age.
Mr Doyo said President Magufuli has been empowering young people to hold on to the top position which has long been believed to be of the elderly.
“Its purpose is to encourage the youth to be ready for the top position, and remind the elders around him so that they do not think of that opportunity but rather live it for the youth,” said Mr Doyo.
Dr Juma Msajigwa, a development expert, said that CCM had invested heavily in fostering the party’s strong young people who will be its successors.
“This process has been flourishing in the first term of President Magufuli after giving them various responsibilities. This will continue and I think there is already one who will get the nod to succeed the current President,” he opined.
However, a lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity said President Magufuli’s statement was not legally binding because the country’s constitution does not set an age limit for a candidate.
Also, the independent lawyer added that the President alone is not the authority to make decisions in his CCM party…
Meanwhile, Article 39(1) of the 1977 Constitution requires candidates for presidency to be Tanzanian citizens by birth, at least 40 years old, be nominated by a political party of which they are a member, be qualified to be an MP or a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, and not have any convictions related to tax evasion.