Chilima outlines vote-rigging case to court: ‘MEC betrayed the people of Malawi’

UTM Party president Saulos Chilima who is asking the Constitutional Court to nullify presidential results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections on Thursday afternoon outlined his case to challenge presidential election results in May that handed a narrow victory to President Peter Mutharika.

Chilima: First witness as the first petitioner
Chilima with lawyers before the case

Chilima through his lawyer, Dr Chikosa Silungwe told the court that elections were replete with a lot of irregularities which dwarfed anything Malawi have ever witnessed in any previous election.

UTM Party president Chilima is the first petitioner and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera as the second petitioner. President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in his capacity as the declared winner, is the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as the second petitioner.

“Analysis will show the irregularities which will show that MEC failed to conduct a free and fair election, failed to discharge its constitutional mandate, that there was no presidential election that can duly elect president under the Elections,” argued Silungwe.

Silungwe said MEC recorded several sworn in statements from presiding officers across the country, arguing that this is what the pollsters could have done “before announcing the purported results.”

He added: “There is no response on record neither from the first respondent and second respondent which amount to a response as directed by this court. In any case, the sworn statements confirm the irregularities and fraud that marred the elections.”

Silungwe also told the court that in its ruling on 25 July 2019, confirmed that the second respondent breached the court’s directions on disclosures.

“Through Chief Executive Officer Sam Alfandika confirmed engagement of an external audit firm but no audit report has been disclosed in these proceeding,” pointed out Silungwe.

Silungwe said MEC “betrayed the people of Malawi in failing to conduct a free and fair election.”

He said Chilima legal team has provided 40 sworn statements.

After lawyer Silungwe’s opening statement, Chilima spotting a black suit and red necktie entered the witness stand and took oath as .the first witness.

Justice Healy Potani reminded the former Vice President and presidential candidate on the seriousness of the oath to say the truth.

Chilima was cross-examined by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who bombarded him with questions to discredit the tendered evidence.

He confirmed several documents he filed to court as affidavits in the case.

Kaphale first asked Chilima about his educational qualifications which he disclosed his credentials from primary school, secondary school certificates from Malawi and the degree obtained from University of Malawi including a PhD from University of Bolton.

“You would agree with me, Sir, that truth and honesty are key to leadership?” asked Kaphale.

“Yes,” responded Chilima.

Kaphale further quizzed Chilima: “You are only raising issues starting from polling day, can you confirm that?”

In response, Chilima said: “There are some issues before polling.”

Kaphale further asked if Chilima’s petition is strictly about activities of the polling day and will move cross examination to roles of various players on the elections including the Candidates, and MEC.

“In your petition you only cited irregularities and not the word fraud. Can you confirm that you did not use this word and  that your counsel is on the wrong path?” Kaphale asked Chilima.

“No use of that word,” said Chilima in his answer.

The Attorney General also asked Chilima if he  knows the process of appointing MEC Commissioners.

“ If you don’t, let me know so that I take you through the process,” said Kahpale.

Chilima said: “Let me be schooled on the process.”

Said Kaphale: “I take it that you have just forgotten.”

Attorney General then gave Chilima  a written law on that to read which stipulates they belong to all parties and approved by Parliament Public Appointments Committee and the Head of State.

Kaphale focused first part of his cross examination focusing on the roles of the Electoral Commission.

“ Would you confirm that if anyone wanted to allege any bias against this body (MEC), they must present such bias. It must not be presumed?” Kaphale asked Chilima.

In response, Chilima said : “I confirm. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

And the focus turned  on the role of party monitors during elections.

Kaphale again  made  Chilima to read specific provisions in the law and has specifically drawn Chilima to section 72 (1) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act which discusses the role and rights of the party monitors during elections.

Chilima and Chakwera are challenging results of the presidential election which MEC chairperson Jane Ansah declared was won by Mutharika. The results indicated that Chakwera was second and Chilima third.

Chakwera contends that Mutharika “won a fraudulent election” fraught with irregularities, including alleged stuffing of ballot papers with pre-marked ballots, tampering with election results sheets through correction fluid and being found in possession of  result sheets at home.

The case is being heard by a panel of five High Court judges comprising Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Ivy Kamanga.

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