The Constitutional Court has strongly admonished lawyer Titus Mvalo SC representing Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera a petitioner who want presidential election results nullified for not giving correct advise to the party not to issue a statement accusing the electoral body of suspiciously soliciting signatures for new electoral result sheets.
A five-member panel of High Court judges sitting as the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe faulted Mvalo, who is MCP legal advisor, for not advising party spokesperson Rev Maurice Munthali not to publish his ‘unwarranted’ statement inciting MCP supporters to be vile only against Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials and lawyers when compiling sworn statements from presiding officers.
The court observed that since the statement was given to Mvalo in advance prior to publication, the lawyer had the opportunity to stop such unfortunate publication as his “advise and input there on was sought”.
During the hearing, Mvalo sought to distance himself from the contents of the MCP statement by saying he never authorized it.
The court said it was “very surprising” and “indeed we find it unbelievable.”
Further, the court also strongly condemned Rev Maurice Munthali for his disgusting statement which among other things demanded that MEC lawyers and officials be apprehended while correcting evidence from presiding officers.
Munthali alleged that some district commissioners were working with MEC to coerce presiding officers and other stakeholders to sign what he termed ‘the clandestine’ result sheets in exchange for money.
“Reverend Munthali’s statement was at best careless and at worst it amounted to an incitement of mob vigilant action by communities against [MEC lawyers] and other officials,” said judge Dingiswayo Madise in the ruling.
Meanwhile, Chakwera was ordered by the court to “publicly condemn and disassociate himself from the offending parts of the statement” issued by Munthali within 24 hours.
The court ordered Chakwera to make his condemnation of MCP spokesman’s statement using “at a minimum, the same mediums Reverend Maurice Munthali used to issue the said statement.”
Chakwera has since respected the court order and acted upon it.
Lawyer Frank Mbeta, who is representing President Peter Mutharika (the first respondent in the case), said the tone by the court will help lawyers not to be intimidated while they are on duty.
The court has since given MEC a five-day relief to conclude collection of sworn affidavits and shifted the commencement date for the full hearing from July 29 to August 8 after MEC submits all the relevant documents to the court on 6 August.