Five judges of the High Court of Malawi, who presided over the landmark May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition, and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Chifundo Kachale, who is also a High Court judge, have been jointly named Malawi flagship online news platform, Nyasa Times 2020 “Person of the Year” on Friday.
The five-judge panel of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) led by its chairperson Judge Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo plus Justice Kachale were chosen from a list of finalists that included the Malawi Defence Force under both General Vincent Nundwe and Andrew Namathanga.
Nyasa Times sought nomination from various reputable commentators and analysts to nominate and give reasons for the accolade and has collectively named the six judges as “person of the year” for 2020.
The publication’s ‘person of the year’ recognizes “the person or group of people who most influenced the news and the country – for better or for worse – during the past year”. It is decided by the Nyasa Times editorial directorate.
The five judges heard the matter as a ConCourt following certification of the matter as constitutional by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
On February 3, despite facing death threats and attempted bribes, the judges proceeded to nullify the the May 21 2019 presidential election outcome and order a rerun over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system as prayed by first petitioner Saulos Chilima of UTM Party and second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party.
The court further declared that then president Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was not duly elected and ordered a fresh presidential election within 150 days.
The ruling also went a step further, changing the nation’s electoral system from a first-past-the-post model to one that requires a candidate to secure an outright majority to get elected.
Kachale handled the fresh presidential elections taking over from Justice Jane Ansah.
Justice Kachale’s professionalism and demonstrating crisis management and leadership during the fresh elections earned him to be jointly named ‘person of the year’.
Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali said the choice of ‘‘person of the year’ was plausible.
Commenting on Kachale, he said: “His vigilance and determinations to see Malawi held the elections in the context of threats of Covid-19, the then government unsuccessful attempts to stop elections and limited funding was amazing.”
The Nyasa Times introduced the ‘Person of the Year’ accolade in 2010.
Last year Ombudsman Martha Chizuma was named as ‘person of the year’ as she continued trailblazing with an approach to public office so alien to the country.
In 2018 Youth and Society (YAS), a civil society organisation (CSO) that advocates for youth empowerment and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) were jointly named 2018’s “Person of the Year” by Nyasa Times.
In 2017 Nyasa Times named Mzuzu-based governance and youth rights advocate Charles Kajoloweka as its 2017 Person of the Year.
In 2016 Nyasa Times named seven youthful Malawians – Wanangwa Msutu, Duwa Mvula, Milca Mphepo, Tiyanjane Kapalamula, Ruth Gondwe, Ivy Chilingulo and Kalolo Msaka -who set off on May 30 for a 362-kilometre 10-day charity walk from Lilongwe to Blantyre to raise funds to buy medical equipment for the High Dependency Unit of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) paediatric ward
In 2015 Nyasa Times named Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mrs Mary Dominica Kachale as its 2015 Person of the Year or notching 15 convictions in the ongoing Cashgate Scandal, and for remaining unintimidated by potential convicts who may probably be trying all they can to avoid jail.
In 2014 the title went to ‘Malawi Media’ and late journalist Ralph Tenthani for work in informing the masses during the year of elections, playing rightful role as public watchdog and also keeping the nation updated on cashgate scandal.
And the year before that, Nyasa Times named Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito as person of the year because he consistently spoke against bad social, economic and political policies that impact negatively on consumer.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :