The presidential election nullification petition case will drag for the next four months with Constitutional Court expected to deliver ruling next year, Nyasa Times understands as five-judge panel on Friday rejected a new checklist by President Peter Mutharika lawyers who indicated they wanted to cross-examine 243 witnesses.
UTM has indicated it only want to cross examine a total of four, while the Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP), looks set to examine 12 witnesses. Lawyers for President Mutharika want 243 witnesses in the block, while the MEC legal team want a total of 38 from UTM and 15 from MCP affidavits.
The Court has sent back all legal teams to perfect their submissions, indicate the areas which they are in agreement and areas they want to cross-examine the other side. Mutharika lawyers were chided for not being serious.
An estimated 50 witnesses are expected to be on the dock and MCP president Lazarus Chakwera might only be heard in court probably end October or November should the current pace of proceedings persists.
Registrar of High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Agnes Patemba said there is no specific duration to hear the elections petition case, saying the trial may reach December.
She said it was also incorrect to think that when the court announced it was going to sit for 12 consecutive days, it meant the matter was going to be concluded within that period.
Patemba who is Judiciary spokesperson said the constitutional court gives judges mandate to make their determination for a maximum of 45 days after conclusion of hearing the case.
“There are rules that govern elections, Considering that the case is now at the Constitutional Court, there are also rules that are followed,” said Patemba.
Ruling in the case in which UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and a fellow presidential hopeful in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera, petitioned the court to nullify the results, citing irregularities in the administration of the polls. can be predicted somewhere after one year of elections.
But judiciary spokesperson said “it is our prayer that we should be done with the hearing of this case by November or December, but we should not get up to next year.”
In an earlier court session, lead counsel for Chakwera, Modecai Msiska, a reputable Senior Counsel (SC) said with the slow pace of the proceedings and court failure to control the Affairs, it was going to take them up to 2025 to have the matter reach its logical conclusion.
The judges were not amused with his assertion and reprimanded him that his statement was going to give a bad impression to the public who are following the case live on radios.
Msiska apologised to the bench.
The MCP and UTM Party presidential candidates claim the presidential elections were rigged in favour of Mutharika who was declared winner with 38 percent of the votes trailed by Chakwera with 35 percent and Chilima with 20 percent.