ConCourt gives revised directions in Malawi polls case: Mutharika’s lawyer Mbeta starts quizzing Chilima

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) hearing the presidential election case from UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) counterpart, Lazarus Chakwera, has given revised directions on cross-examination of witnesses and objections from the lawyers to ensure expedited trial.

Mbeta: Cross-examining Chilima

Judge Healey Potani, chair of the five-judge panel of Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu, Mike Tembo and Ivy Kamanga, sitting as the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, on Friday provided directions on how the matter should proceed, saying on cross-examination, lawyers should only be focussing on matters that are under dispute.

He said parties have been directed to file supplementary checklist by Wednesday 4pm to indicate facts that are not in dispute.

The ConCourt further directs that cross-examination will only be done by notice and parties interested to conduct cross-examination should also indicate specific areas of cross-examination.

“This will serve two useful purposes, one that witness will come prepared, second cross examination will be more focused,” said Justice Potani.

The ConCourt also directed that a subsequent cross examining party will not be allowed to repeat the same question that has been previously tackled by the first or initial preceding cross examination.

“The other aspect we wish to give direction on is the objection on cross examination; we are very mindful that parties are entitled to raise objection, yes when rules have been flouted. However,  there will be instances where objections are clearly  [nefarious]  and in those instance the courts will not hesitate to summarily overrule the objection.”

But he said where the objections will be well founded, the court will give attention.

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, who is representing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) the second respondent, as government chief legal advisor,  contributed  to the housekeeping issues and  asked  the ConCourt about the record of the proceedings.

Laywer Charles  Mhango, representing  President Peter Mutharika, asked the court to allow each party to the case to be allowed to ask the same questions to a witness in relation to how their client is involved.

After the housekeeping issue, first petitioner Chilima returned to the witness stand for further cross-examination by Mutharika’s lawyers.

Lawyer  Frank Mbeta started  asking questions to Chilima  to confirm that he did not contest as MP or Councillor in the May Tripartite Elections and to confirm that his UTM party only won four seats in Parliament.

Mbeta further asked Chilima to confirm that the party’s losing Parliamentary candidates and the four that won are not a party to the electoral case.

Chilima confirmed all the facts, saying he is only seeking to nullify the presidential elections.

Then Mbeta further asked about the wording of his court petition by including the term tripartite elections which Chilima said he need the legal team to look into that.

But Chilima lawyers raised an objection when Mbeta asked about party monitors with Dr Chikosa Silungwe saying the court had just directed the hearing to avoid repetitive questions.

“In any event asking the witness the rationale in the involvement of monitors in an election is not only interperative of the law but  also evaluating of the evidence so I object that question,” said Silungwe.

ConCourt directed Mbeta to ask other questions as the role of monitors was already asked and exhausted by Attorney General who had five days of cross-examining Chilima.

When Mbeta asked another question about role of monitors, Justice Kamanga intervened to remind him the question was also previously asked by the Attorney General.

Continuing with the cross-examination, Mbeta asked Chilima about assertion that DPP cadets had been involved in dispatching of ballot papers and whether Chilima has evidence of that allegation.

Chilima said in response: “On record, no.”

He showed Chilima pictures of some gadgets and asked  about use of unusual gadgets by UTM monitors who were arrested by police during the election period.

This prompted another objection from Silungwe who asked the ConCourt to remove the question, saying the picture circulated is not on court record  and Chilima has been ambushed with the pictures.

Silungwe said the use of suspicious gadgets was  introduced to justify the arrest of some UTM monitors during the elections.

Mbeta, however,  explained  that the question had  risen from claims by Chilima in his petition that some UTM monitors were arrested during elections without any reason.

The ConCourt ruled that Chilima should answer the questions.

The MCP and UTM Party presidential candidates claim the presidential elections were rigged in favour of Mutharika who was declared winner with 38 percent of the votes trailed by Chakwera with 35 percent and Chilima with 20 percent.

The electoral case started in earnest  last week before but the proceedings were adjourned on Thursday to give room to the Supreme Court  to rule on an appeal President Peter Mutharika and Electoral Commission had filed to throw out the presidential election petition case for being filed “irregularly” and “illegally”.

A panel of seven Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judges led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda flanked by Justices Rezine Mzikamanda, Anthony Kamanga, Edward Twea, Dunstain Mwaungulu, Lovemore Chikopa and Edgar Kapanda,  dismissed  the appeal with costs .

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Malopa
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Malopa

musova!sitidya ndale olo chilima ife I hustle for myself nothing will change

Vivian
Guest

we have this mindset / problem /sickness in Malawi —–that’s forgetting quickly easily and too early —‘the mysterious deaths of our dear brothers and sisters (the albinos )—– dausi and friends ferrying truck loads of votes from chikwawa NSANJE and all over Malawi —–

Omakaka
Guest
Omakaka

Mbuzi za ntambo,tamacomentani Anthu ongophya mitima mopppusssa Inu ndi makadeti ndi chimozimodzi.Damet

oMachemba
Guest
oMachemba

House cleaning by resetting the rules in Court is a good thing, but it should not be used to thwart the defense in any way. Defense is the cornerstone of impartial courts in a democracy, like ours. Pinpointed questions to Chilima have, so far, produced no legal evidence that the elections were “rigged”. Even his ardent supporters should agree with this assertion. Maybe Chilima is waiting for an opportune time to bring the magical live cat out of the bag, so to speak. That would indeed be a futile strategy; and “HARDtalk” is NOT known for being strategic, abale inu.… Read more »

kaukonde
Guest
kaukonde

The scheme now because they lack evidence has been to contract the senior terrorist Gift Ntambo, Trepence, Semberaka and Mayaya to hire thugs and start damaging Malawi. This a ploy meant to blackmail Muntharika that there is tension therefore he should open negotiations with Chilima and Chakwera for a stake in government. These two are in big debt that they have no money to pay back and their only hope was that they should go into government and steal to repay the loans including loan sharks.

Vinjenje
Guest
Vinjenje

Khau !

Chriss
Guest
Chriss

Mr Mbeta, are you still involved in this case, thought you excused yourself after failing in other attempts, koma ndalama inaphadi Yesu.

Chriss
Guest
Chriss

Apanga bwanji munthu wamamuna ma babie achuluka ngati Lawyer uyu Kanyenda wa DPP

Gulukunye
Guest
Gulukunye

Ma lawyer otchukila bribes and judge shopping muyaluka mu court.

Maunits
Guest
Maunits

This is Justice delivered to save Malawians. Indeed Malawi judiciary is there to save the people of Malawi not to few crooked individuals. The World will know that there is independent judiciary in Malawi and this will be land mark and indeed historical to the Malawi nation.

TOSH
Guest

THATS AGOOD IDEA POTANI NGATI KAPHALE ALI NDI MAKUTU AMVE WHAT POTANI IS SAYING IS WHAT KAPHALE WAS DOING WHICH WAS QUITE CONTRALLY WITH CROSS EXAMINING PROCEDURES

Alfred Minjo
Guest
Alfred Minjo

Mmmmmmmmmmmm! Nonsense a Tosh.