As time slowly ticks towards August 8 for the commencement of the presidential elections case, there is a flurry of very focused and purposeful activity in the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) lawyers camp who have a deadline to beat for the collection and filing of the last vestiges of their trial evidence.
The Constitutional Court had given MEC a five-day relief to conclude collection of sworn affidavits before trial starts in a case where petitioners want presidential election results nullified.
Now lawyers in the MEC legal team led by private practice lawyer Tamanda Chokhotho, they are upbeat and most are very eager for the trial to commence in earnest.
One of the MEC lawyers – who asked not to be named because he has no mandate to talk to the media – said the public has for this long being fed lies that the election was compromised by the Commission.
“When trial commenced, it will not even take a few days for the general public to know the real truth, which by the way, also points towards why people that have filed an election petition cannot wait for their turn in court but are proceeding with demonstrations seeking the resignation of the MEC Chairperson over alleged conduct that is the very subject matter of the trial,” said the lawyer.
So far, the lawyers have filed so many lever arch files of rebuttal evidence they are even pondering whether the court may not consider moving the trial to another more accommodative venue.
Asked on this issue, the lawyer said that their camp has mulled the issue but would rather leave it to the court itself to make a decision when trial starts.
MEC was recently given a 5-day extension for compiling sworn statements and a court order against officials and supporters of first petitioner UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and second petitioner Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, restraining them from interfering with their work.
The electoral commission argued that it needed more time to solicit information and submit disclosures because that would benefit all parties involved in the case.
The extra five days have made the court to shift 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.
On his part, lawyer Frank Mbeta, who is representing President Peter Mutharika (the first respondent in the case), has filed to the Constitutional Court to throw out the consolidated petitions of UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) challenging results of the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections which favoured Mutharika, for lacking evidence of irregularities and wasting court time.
Mbeta argue that the Chilima and Chakwera have heavily relied on the use of the alteration fluid known as Tippex as a basis to nullify the election.
“The Petitioners have deliberately failed to adduce the source documents ( Forms 60C) which are the stream results in order to contradict the results sheets that were relied upon by MEC (form 60c) when announcing the results,” lawyer Mbeta argues for Mutharika.
“The Petitioners have miserably failed to tell the court the effect of the alterations on the votes polled by the candidates.
“The petitioners have also failed to tell the court the fact that alteration fluid used was only for reconciliation of the figures and not to change the votes of the candidates.”
The High Court consolidated the petitions into one case and referred the matter to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda who subsequently certified it as a constitutional matter and assigned a five-judge panel to hear the case as a Constitutional Court.
The five-judge panel comprises Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Redson Kapindu.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :