Posted on May 10, 2023 at 15:58

We have embarked on the IPOR in-house Seminar Series where staff members will be presenting papers on different topics of interest. The aim is to build knowledge on how to conceptualise ideas, prepare presentations and effectively present to the audience. 

In kick-starting the journey, IPOR's Director of Research and Operations, Dr. Boniface Dulani, today presented a paper titled: From Athens to Zimbabwe: The evolution of presidential term limits in historical perspective.

Among others, Dr Dulani argued that respect of presidential term limits remains part and parcel of a consolidated democracy. He said while there is precedence on presidential term limits, precedence a lone is not sufficient because over time, people will still debate on the merits and demerits of presidential term limits.

He explained that in Malawi, for instance, the citizens chose presidential term limits in 1994 and there is a consensus amongst Malawians, through scientific studies, that the majority would not want to abolish presidential term limits.

Dr. Dulani said Malawians believe, that alternating presidential terms is good, since it gives room for the people to elect new presidents, to test new leadership ideas. 

Additionally, he explained that from 1994, Malawians have shown the powerful effect of presidential alternation, as for instance seen in 2020, when citizens changed the ruling government,  meaning that there is a consensus to remove a leader, who does not perform in line with expectations of the majority.

On the political science perspective, Dr. Dulani believes that, it would be ideal to have presidential term limits, not extended to the Office of the Vice President, explaining that it may deter presidential running mates, who may harbour presidential ambitions in future. 

He acknowledges that the current laws in Malawi, bars vice presidents to vie for presidential seat, after serving for two consecutive terms of office.