Malawi's constitution allows for only two consecutive five year-terms of office for the president. But if President Bakili Muluzi's men have their way, Section 83 (3) of the constitution will be amended to allow him to go for a third term. Muluzi's current term ends in 2004.
His supporters say Section 195 of the constitution allows parliament to change the constitution when necessary, and this is what they want to do.
The government has indicated that the issue will be debated in the next sitting of parliament, and press reports have revealed that Muluzi has already formed a task force called the "2004 Crusade" which is seeking funding for the third term campaign.
Ruling party and government officials defend the campaign saying Muluzi is the best leader ever in the country's history and must be given the chance for another term.
In a recent press statement, the officials claimed that "the framers of the constitution must have had in mind the fact that the constitution is a living document and with the passage of time, there might arise circumstances which would necessitate amendments in order for the constitution to be in step with present times."
They added that "since Malawi's democracy is still in its infancy and the democratic constitution is the first of its kind, it is inevitable that it will require a number of amendments before it becomes an ideal document for the country."
Not so, say civil society, church groups and NGOs who have already mounted their own campaign to fight the "2004 Crusaders".
The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has issued a pastoral letter calling on all Malawians "to stand up and check the government's abuse of power."
Six influential Catholic bishops under the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), have also added their voice. In a pastoral letter, the six...