Ben Malunga Phiri, a key witness to President Peter Mutharika, who is first respondent in the presidential election case, approach in which he admitted electoral flaws in May 21 elections, followed the pattern set by lawyer Sam Tembenu on Thursday when he told the court in his brief statement that despite some immaterial irregularities, Mutharika won the presidency fair and square.
During cross-examination by first petitioner Saulos Chilima’s lawyer, Chikosa Silungwe, Phiri acknowledged that the May 21 elections were marred by challenges that included officers filling in inappropriate boxes of the tally sheets because of failure to understand some terminologies.
While accepting that there were a few issues that would have done better but these mishaps does not warrant nullification of results and a call for fresh elections.
“Many tally sheets were rejected because they were manually amended. Later, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) provided us [DPP] with an official letter allowing us to approve any manual amendment on the tally sheet and forms used at constituency centre,”said Phiri.
Mutharika’s key witness confirmed that white correctional fluid tippex was used, duplicate tally sheets were used, things that were already confirmed by the MEC chair Jane Ansah prior to announcements of results and MEC lawyers during cross examination.
On request by Silungwe, the court also played a video clip of MEC chairperson Ansah recorded during one of the press briefings at the National Tally Centre in Blantyre.
In the video clip, the MEC chairperson responded to a question about who distributed Tippex. Ansah explained that various parties had complained about the use of the correction fluid, but she explained that MEC did not provide the stuff.
Said Ansah: “The … use of Tippex has not left out any district in this country—from Chitipa to Nsanje, Salima to Mchinji. And there is no particular party which we can say is the culprit because all political parties are coming forward with complaints about it.”
Silungwe used the audit report as the basis of his questions, issues like use of tippex, duplicate sheets and some results that auditors quried but were signed by party representatives.
Mutharika’s first witness insisted that Tippex was used correctly.
Ben Phiri, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, is expected to be cross-examined by lawyers for the second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera when the court reconvenes on November 25.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :