Malawi’s respectable constitutional lawyer Modecai Msisha the Senior Counsel (SC) and Dr Chikosa Silungwe, lead lawyers for Lazarus Chakwera and Saulosi Chilima, respectively, have interpreted the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling as permitting their clients to continue their partnership.
Silungwe, who welcomed the Friday Supreme Court ruling as a landmark for African elections systems, said the ruling on the candidates will not affect Chilima and Chakwera’s current partnership on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) tickets reprsesenting Tonse Allince of nine parties.
So too the ticket of President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with his running mate Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) will not be affected.
The seven-panel Supreme Court ruled that only candidates that participated in the 2019 annulled elections must be allowed in the July 2 fresh elections.
Lawyer Sulugwe said the pair has never been the candidate but the individual in an election is a candidate.
“We know who the candidates were. The court has said something about eligibility—those who want to remain eligible on the basis that they contested in the May 21 2019 presidential elections, can exercise that eligibility,” he said.
The court also restricted that there will be no new voters roll but use the 2019 register.
University of Cape Town professor of Law Danwood Chirwa said the restriction for only those who were registered to vote in 2019 will vote in the fresh elections was understandable because this is a correction of the 2019 election.
“The court has not restricted how presidential candidates may participate. So they are allowed by implication to participate as presidential or running mate candidates. Both positions are presidential. This interpretation is consistent with the spirit of the meaning of majority the court has adopted,” he said.
The seven-panel of the Supreme Court judges comprised Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, Justice Rezine Mzikamanda, Justice Edward Twea, Justice Anaclet Chipeta, Justice Lovemore Chikopa, Justice Frank Kapanda and Justice Anthony Kamanga.