‘Garbage in, garbage out’: Suleman maintains on manipulation of results in Malawi polls

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale on Monday tussled with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) IT expert and witness in the on-going elections case, Daud Suleman, on how results in the presential elections in May were allegedly manipulated in the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) system.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate Chakwera (r) and UTM president Saulos Chilima are seeking nullification of the presidential election results over alleged irregularities.

During the cross examination, Kaphale representing the electoral body by virtue of being government chief legal advisor,  focused  his questioning to undermining the expertise of Suleman and  undermining the conclusions of his investigation.

Kaphale questioned the expertise of the witness, drawing attention his credentials in the IT profession and realiability of data punched into the system.

The witness maintained that what mattered most was that when data was entered into the system there should have been the integrity of results and not accuracy.

Suleman also maintained his claim that the electoral body’s system was insecure  purportedly because “ghost” users were logging to upload  presidential results.

The sixth witness of second petitioner Lazarus Chakwera  stuck to his  position in his demonstration to court that IT experts at the electoral body including Muhabi Chisi logged into the system to upload results after MEC chairperson Jane Ansah had already announced the winner.

In his analysis, Malawian legal scholar based at the at South Africa’s Cape Town University,  Professor Danwood Chirwa, said Kaphale only targeted  Suleman on formal qualifications but not experience.

“But by demonstration, Suleman speaks and acts like an expert in his field and so the damage to his evidence isn’t too great. I hear that some hackers as computer geniuses are school dropouts,” Chirwa said.

Professor Chirwa said what will matter is how MEC IT expert Chisi will perform his simulation and whether he will show that the system was not insecure and that it wasn’t infiltrated.

“ He has to do this, not just come to say Suleman was wrong,” he said.

As regards Suleman’s conclusions, law expert Chirwa said there has been also some significant headway in the cross examination, especially as regards whether the “ghost” that penetrated the IT system in fact altered the results.

“Suleman seems only to have proven that there was unauthorized entry into the system and that the online approval system was operated by unauthorized personnel. He seems not to have been assigned the job of checking whether the IT system in fact produced altered results. Kaphale tried to make this point, almost too repeatedly that he got entangled in unnecessary and unproductive squabbles,” pointed out Chirwa.

He added: “It will be interesting to see what Suleman’s ‘garbage in and garbage out’ metaphor will be taken up by the petitioners in their closing argument. I think it is a powerful metaphor for what is being alleged.

“There are many altered documents, duplicates and some unsigned by monitors. The MEC has to prove the sequence of events. If the MEC printed, as Kaphale was suggesting, documents fed into and processed by the computer which were open to manipulation in the IT system as Suleman alleges, and if during verification and approval by the Commission, source documents were altered to conform to the IT generated docs, then Suleman carries the day. “

Chirwa said there has to be “independent evidence” for the correctness of the results which were altered or presented on duplicates or not signed by monitors.

“ The commission will have to produce it and that that evidence was available before the commission at the material time. If the results were computer manually, the commission still has to show what role the IT system played in the election and how it carried out the entire manual system,” he added.

Social commentator  Stanley Onjezani Kenani in his post on social media observed that Kaphale’s cross-examination os Suleman seems to imply that he does not deny that 403 unauthorised users had  used the MEC system, or that a “ghost” user processed the results of almost 4 000 polling centres.

“ Instead, he seems to imply that we should forget about all the anomalies in the Results Management System, as long as the manual side of things was fine.

“That is problematic on several fronts. One: Many witnesses have demonstrated how the data that was entered into the system was also manually manipulated. Their evidence seems supported by the Malawi Electoral Commission’s own auditors, who have listed a slew of documents that were manipulated, and also documents whose results did not balance,” Kenani a professional accountant, wrote.

He pointed out that Suleman referred to “Garbage in garbage out.”

Wrote Kenani: “Those manually manipulated results – let’s call them the ‘garbage in’ – were typed into the system and then printed out (i.e. garbage out). Just because Commissioners approved them does not make them authentic, right? A report by BDO – external auditors hired by MEC – says there were 273 forms affected by the correction material, Tippex, 65 forms were manually amended, 45 had missing signatures, while 66 forms did not have political parties’ signatures.

“ According to the report, some Form 66 sheets were unclear; other forms used were not original and even more were excessively Tippexed by presiding officers. The report goes on to say there was suspected manipulation of results forms, and the MEC information, communication and technology (ICT) people, in some instances, scanned the wrong copies of Form 66 and captured wrong data. That is the garbage Daud is talking about.”

Kenani also focused on MEC’s ICT Director Muhabi Chisi’s affidavit of 22 July which categorically states as follows: “I state that the results of the Tripartite elections that were held on 21st May were managed, processed and eventually determined by the Commission in accordance with the Results Management System.”

He then queries why Kaphale could turn around and ignore all the manipulation that took place in the RMS and focus on the manual side of things.

“ Prior to the elections, MEC spent a lot of time making dry runs in the presence of stakeholders to demonstrate how the RMS was going to work. The idea was to assure stakeholders that the RMS was there to safeguard the integrity of the elections. Kaphale cannot turn around now and say we should disregard all that and focus on the manual trail,” Kenani stated.

“Interestingly, even as with one corner of his mouth he seemed to persuade the court to focus on the manual process, with the other he attempted to discredit Daud Suleman as not being sufficiently qualified to audit the RMS. Mind you, until this point, he has not disputed any of the key aspects of Daud Suleman’s evidence.”

First petitioner UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and second petitioner  Chakwera are seeking nullification of the presidential election results over alleged irregularities.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
tung'ande
Guest
tung'ande

Garbage in and garbage out means wrong data entered will give wrong data output. So Daud implies that all the data that was entered by MEC was garbage and therefore produced wrong out put and in his thinking he believes if the right data was entered Chakwera would have won. That is where he got it wrong because he wants us to believe that what is available from MCP tally centre was the correct data yet he fails to establish the origin of such data. while in the case of MEC the origin of their data is form 66

Kandulu
Guest
Kandulu

Keep wasting your time on thus case while I am busy emptying the government coffers. I can’t stop stealing. By the time the case is over I will be a billionaire. Either way I am a winner.

Chiga
Guest
Chiga

Any reputable hospital will employ services of personnel united in diversity of specialist qualification and experience (even medical personnel may specialize in special field of medicine). When it comes to matters of law Kaphale demonstrated his depth of knowledge and experience when ‘apparently cornering’ petitioners’ witnesses in his cross-examination. He was generally applauded for his ingenuity in apparently exposing ‘glaring weaknesses’ in the evidence paraded by the witnesses who probably lacked depth in legal expertise in their minds. Kaphale ensured he took full advantage of this. However, the tables appear to have started to be turned from the entry into… Read more »

Patriot
Guest
Patriot

I like this. It is imperative therefore that we should listen to the counter argument by MEC’s IT expert. Glad to have the application by UTM and MCP denied.

chataika
Guest
chataika

Yes for sure lets wait and see. We should continue listening to the case with keen interest and impartiality at this time otherwise BP idzashooter mosakhala bwino if the determination goes either way fro either parties

Jason Bailer
Guest
Jason Bailer

The reason why a solicitor will demand to know the qualifications of a witness is just like what has rightly been explained. Qualifications differ and that is a fact, but if you come across a person who claims to be qualified just on basic knowledge in that field, then it is dangerous and unacceptable to take him seriously. Now to ascertain his credentials it must be established that indeed that person is fit for purpose. But now in our case, these guys are displaying their expertise based on the knowledge they got from roadside institutions, and are unable to produce… Read more »

Smecker
Guest
Smecker

This is what they call fallacy…just because you attended a prestigious institution of learning it does not mean that you know more than anyone who went through one which was less…it is as poor reasoning as to claim that a pupil who learnt how to write through attending a rural school does not know how to write but one who went to an urban school…it is nonsense. If Kaphale thinks Suleiman is a fake or under-qualified, why not test him on what makes one qualified? He has all the experts in the world he could draw on to test and… Read more »

Machiavelli
Guest
Machiavelli

This is not true. Expertise does not only come through formal education especially in technical things like IT. No court would discredit evidence where one one has demonstrated fully that he is knows and understands the issue at hand just because he doesn’t have academic qualifications in that field.

Ankolo
Guest

Suleiman is gabbage. Wait and see

Peter
Guest
Peter

All these evidence that have already pay in courtroom Kaphale he is still not understand them? This man he is just old fool like his boss! But what he must know is that, Malawians are not fools anymore and he will not get anything from Court that’s for sure.

Jason Bailer
Guest
Jason Bailer

Were Malawians fools before? Bwinotu-bwino!!

MASO ENA
Guest
MASO ENA

AKWENI ANGOKHALA NGATI MG2 WA SKC TU!!

Aaron Gadama
Guest
Aaron Gadama

So many ghosts could have accessed the MEC system and no IT expert can tell whether it was Orton Chirwa, Dick Matenje, Muwalo Nqumayo, Focus Gwede, Dunduzu Chisiza, David Chiwanga, Malemu Solobala, Twaib Sangala, Masauko Chipembere, T/A Mwase, T/A Chikumbu, Atati Mpakati, Yatuta Chisiza, John Msonthi etc. Its an army of ghosts of people MCP killed and MCP shall forever be haunted.

Mai madando 147
Guest
Mai madando 147

Dausi anali mbali iti nthawiyo?pano ali akufesa kuti mbewu yokupha? Mcp u must proud of urself becoz oyipa athawira ku dpp

Mmalawi
Guest
Mmalawi

You forgot Robert Chasowa, Issa Njaunju, Ralph TEnthani, July2011 twenty young people, Phiri from Karonga, some May 21 presiding officers, like the one who teansfered SKC ‘s name etc etc

Botolo
Guest
Botolo

Please, respect these names. These people did not die in vain and their names should be used for any fun like you are doing here. Imagine if any of these were your relatives, how would you feel?

Mlomwe
Guest

Foolish comment

pedegu
Guest
pedegu

Akweni mamunayo siwanu kumakhala bwino kuzolowera eti paja?////