Embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has said Malawi lawyers issued a resounding rejection of the commission to represent it in the presidential election annulment appeal at the Supreme Court hence they hired South African lawyers to cost the tax-payer a whopping K600 million (USD 788,500).
Ansah told delegates to the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting in Blantyre on Friday the electoral body took a costly decision to bring in foreign lawyers on the appeal case at the cost of K600 million after all local lawyers were rejecting the body.
“All lawyers in Malawi were refusing to take up the case,” said Ansah, who is also a Supreme Court of Appeal judge.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary Maurice Munthali had sought clarification from MEC on why it hired lawyers from South Africa.
Ansah said Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who defended its case at Constitutinal Court at taxpayers’ expense and miserably lost the case with costs, again to be borne by the taxpayer, could not continue because the Court ruled he should stop representing the matter.
She said all local lawyers declined to represent the body and as such it had no choice but to source elsewhere.
MEC has come under public fire for spending the astronomical figure of money to pay foreign lawyers with people arguing that if the appeal case has merit, MEC can win it in the Supreme Court without importing lawyers from South Africa at the cost to the taxpayer of K600 million.
Commentators say there are many better ways to spend that amount for the good of the taxpayer.
Influentical newspaper columnist Backbencher wrote in the Weekend Nation: “In case MEC Commissioners don’t know, our public hospitals have no drugs and poor Malawians go there for diagnosis and prescription then end up buying expensive drugs in better stocked private hospitals or pharmacies. The money we’re forced to waste could’ve been better used in the procurement of drugs to save lives, not egos.
“MEC should also be reminded that in this 21st Century our children still get killed when walls of substandard classroom blocks fall on them while they are in class. Our children also get killed when dry branches of their under-the-tree open air classes fall on their tender bodies, smashing their heads in the process. Chiefs should tell MEC that in this day and age, our children are being swept away to their premature deaths as they try to cross swollen rivers without bridges while walking to or from school.”
The columnist continued to write that: “Universities should tell MEC that many of our brilliant young men and women are withdrawn from colleges just because they can’t afford fees and the meagre resources allocated to Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board do not meet the demand by far.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :