Legal and social experts are suggesting that the K7 billion bill which the High Court has ordered Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to pay defense lawyers for President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima as legal fees in the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification case should have gone to individual pollster’s commissioners.
Political and social commentator Mankhambo Munthali said it sad that the tax payer is punished to pay for the incompetency of MEC commissioners led by Jane Ansah.
“It is high time we held public officers accountable for their action,” said Munthali.
Dean of Law at Chancellor College Sunduzwayo Madise said probably the law chould be changed to punish public officers who fail to do their job effectively and efficiently.
Writing on his Facebook wall, South Africa based Malawian law professor Danwood Chirwa said the K7 billion bill was too high by any standards.
“I am still wrapping my head around the costs assessment orders in favour of Tonse alliance lawyers.
“Somewhere close to K7 billion meant for four lawyers. Malawian lawyers must explain whether there has been examples of a lawyer charging for all possible billable hours in a year and earning at least K1.5 billion,” he says.
He also said that the Electoral Commission must also disclose how much it paid its lawyers so that people know exactly how much in total the taxpayer has lost though the polls case and who has benefitted most.
During the assessment on Monday this week, Agnes Patemba, registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said the costs were for five lawyers who were present during the proceedings on the basis that the court felt that the rest of the legal practitioners were a luxury and an unnecessary burden on the paying part.
Chakwera, who teamed up with Chilima as his running mate, won the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election on June 23 after amassing 58 percent of the vote.