The Constitutional Court hearing the presidential election nullification petition case has stressed that Malawians have a right to understand what happening to their votes during the May 21 elections hence rejecting “frivolous” application by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to stop the second petitioner Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Information Technology (IT) expert Daudi Suleman from accessing and demonstrating how the electoral body’s system was compromised during the disputed elections.
Zomba-based Judge Redson Kapindu reading a ruling which he was unanimous decision by a panel of five judges which include its chairperson Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Mike Tembo, said the court s “at all material times” considered the issue of security of the computer system at MEC.
Kapindu dismissed fears that using the system in the court case would mean MEC spending more on getting fresh licences from its service providers -Microsoft – in future, saying regardless of costs Malawians have a right to understand what happened during the transmission of the results.
The court said expenditure – if needed to renew the licence or purchase new system – was justifiable as there is overwhelming public interest in the elections case.
The judges said the elections case was a matter of national interest that the public would be able to pay for future procurement of new system if need be.
Kapindu said it was, therefore, critical that Malawians hear what happened to their votes amid questions about the credibility of the process.
“The people of Malawi are entitled to know what really happened to the system when it was active,” said the judge.
The court observed that public confidence in future elections hinges on the current matter in court.
“The system is important. It belongs to the people if Malawi and it is crucial for them; it facilitated the determination of the election of their leaders. The proceedings are of national importance,” Kapindu said in the ruling broadcast live on country electronic media.
The case has attracted greater public interest, with scores thronging into the court and potentially millions following proceedings through live radio broadcasts by Times Radio, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, MIJ FM Radio and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
Suleiman said in his sworn statement that the MCP IT team discovered anomalies in the MEC database during inspection which they want to demonstrate to the court.
He argues that the MEC system was “deliberately stopped from tracking activities or the records were deleted at the time the information was handed over to MEC,” adding “in either case this was a serious anomaly.”
But MEC filed an application to stop MCP from accessing the electoral body’s system, saying it will compromise the electoral body’s data security.
Bur the court dismissed the application as “frivolous and vexatious”.
Said Judge Kapindu: “All these statements that MEC is making, therefore, only represent an attempt by MEC to have a second run with the court on same issues that were adequately ventilated during arguments on September 17 2019. Therefore, in the final analysis, having carefully considered the issues raised, we have found no satisfactory reason for the discharge of validation of the order on September 2019 in this regards.”
Suleiman with be the sixth and last witness for MCP president Lazarus Chakwera who, alongside his UTM Party counterpart Saulos Chilima, is disputing the election results that declared governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika winner.
The fifth witness MCP general secretary Eisenhower Mkaka walked out of the witness box on Tuesday but lawyer Modecai Msisha, Senior Counsel, (for Chakwera), said they would not subject Mkaka to re-examination “in the interest of expediting the trial.”
Mkaka told the Constitutional Court that the presidential winner of the May election was picked by MEC, not voters.
But Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, who is representing MEC in his capacity as chief legal adviser to the government, said most of Mkaka’s statements during cross-examination were based on hearsay and not evidence from his own sworn statement.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :