Decision day! High level of anxiety in Malawi over what happens after verdict

A panel of five judges of the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Courtwill today , February 3 2020 deliver the landmark verdict in a case challenging a vote last year that re-elected President Peter Mutharika but legal experts say whichever way the judgement will go – Mutharika will remain in office.

Mutharika won a second term with 38.6% of the vote. But Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera went to court to argue that he should have been declared the winner.

According to the official results by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Chakwera won 35.4% of the vote  while  UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, who is immediate former State vice-president,  came third with 20.2%,  and is also challenging the election result.

George Phiri, a political scientist at the University of Livingstonia in the northern city of Mzuzu,  said he expects the court to nullify the results.

“The evidence presented in court was clear and it was not disputed that the election in May last year were marred by irregularities,” he said.

Billy Mayaya, a human rights activist, said option of fresh elections may provide the solution “but without major reforms in the law and to the Constitution, nothing will temper the situation.”

Meanwhile, legal experts say if the ConCourt nullifies the presidential elections the presidency will revert to the pre-May 2019 elections status which means President Mutharika will remain in office and Chilima will return to his position as  vice-president with current vice-president Everton Chimulirenji expected out until fresh elections.

But Blantyre-based lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa, who is former Malawi Law Society president, observed rhat in the event of nullification, Mutharika could  elongate his presidency by appealing to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal  and getting a court order ti put aside the Constitutional Court decision.

Makhwawa said is a stay order is granted, Chimulirenji  would remain Vice-president “until determination of appeal.”

However, Makhwawa and other legal pundits says details on what happens next will be outlines in the ruling.

In the case, the opposition alleged that the electoral process, especially the way the results were handled, was full of irregularities.

Their  lawyers argued that correction fluid – known locally by the brand name Tipp-Ex – had been used on some of the tallying forms sent in by polling stations.

The changes were made after they had been signed by party agents, they said.

The lawyers also said that in some cases polling officials sent in the wrong copy of the results sheet to the main tallying centre.

They also found some mathematical errors in a small number of cases.

Though in each case there were not a huge number of errors, the lawyers said that the evidence pointed to a flawed process.

MEC which was represented by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and private practice lawyer Tamando Chokhoto,  defended its handling of the vote as being in keeping with the law.

It said that on the few forms where correction fluid had been found, it had not been used to change a result, but to alter procedural information that had been incorrectly entered.

The commission said it had not supplied the Tipp-Ex.

The MEC’s lawyers also argued that while the wrong copy of the results sheet had been submitted in some cases, that copy had been signed off by party agents and the tally itself was correct.

Outside the court proceedings, backers of  Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)often mentioned reports of international observers, which were largely favourable, as evidence that he won the vote fairly.

This week, leaders of the opposition political parties and ruling party signed a pact to ensure peace during and after the verdict.

Several international organizations, including United Nations and the Southern African Development Community, have also issued statements calling on Malawians to maintain peace after the Monday court verdict. –Additional reporting Peter Jegwa, BBC and Frank Jomo, Bloomberg

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Zeze
Zeze
9 months ago

Chilima the rejected stone, can he become a cornerstone? With all that thamu and kabanga?

Hon. Nyaphapi One
9 months ago

Let me be very brief: akapanga apilu ndiye kuti ndichitsiru. Ndiye nkhondo imeneyo. This matter MUST be settled today. And the Nation of Malawi allowed to move forward.

APM wanya
APM wanya
9 months ago

Hihihihihihihi. THIS IS THE DAY!!!!

wa Nyau
wa Nyau
9 months ago
Reply to  APM wanya

osatha mawu

Malawi belong to the citizens.

Please lawyers don’t play with our minds.If there is nullification of 21 May general election results today by the constitution judges.It means the election was not conducted properly.This point, is enough for Munthalika not to appeal the judgement of it comes in that way. We want more world class infrastructures and little Politics.Infact both Munthalika and chilima should not be given old positions.Atleast the court should give powers to the chief justice to allow an interim president to lead until fresh election are held.And the speaker of national assembly can take that position.We should be moving forward as a country… Read more »

Mitengo
Mitengo
9 months ago

Indeed that’s your mind. Judges would not go away from the constitution. After nullification as you would wish it to be, every thing remains the same as if nothing has happened except may be Chilima may go back to his old position;until the fresh elections occurs in may be 2021. Then change effects.

About2Take A Redpill
About2Take A Redpill
9 months ago

I second this

chataika
chataika
9 months ago

Irregularities sikubera ayi. and mind you when mcp and utm ammended their petition statement they knew already that if they could say elections were rigged they could loose miserably bcoz they had no evidence whatsoever thats why they changed to say irregularities but irregularities does not mean elections were rigged. In any system irregularities are always there but it only takes what % does it have for the influence

CHIMBENENE NDICHOSA
CHIMBENENE NDICHOSA
9 months ago
Reply to  chataika

THAT IS TYPICAL DPP THINK MY FRIEND HERE IN MALAWI EVEN A SINGLE PERSON CAN BE ADVANTAGE TO ONE AND DISADVANTAGE TO ANOTHER SO A SLIGHT IRRIGULARITY CAN ADVANTAGE ONE OR DISADVANTAGE ANOTHER TOO SO %AGE IS NOTHING BUT IF INDEED THERE WAS IRREGULARITIES OR NOT IS WHAT MATTERS MOST

Chikafu
Chikafu
9 months ago
Reply to  chataika

Eya! Ndiwo wataura iwe! Pamberi newe! Kkkkkkk

APM wanya
APM wanya
9 months ago
Reply to  chataika

They only removed the rigging part because they were not allowed to check the bank accounts of the data center guys. However excessive irregularities, like in this case, can provide indirect evidence of rigging.

Zione
Zione
9 months ago
Reply to  APM wanya

What does rigging elections really mean

Zaya
Zaya
9 months ago
Reply to  chataika

Awaso nawo, za mtiiii

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