There is controversy over the contract which the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has hired South African lawyers to help in the presidential election nullification appeal case with Minister if Finance and Secretary to Treasury expressing ignorance of the 788 500 (about K600 million) contract in legal costs.
MEC has hired South Africa-based law firm – Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys with four lawyers in the country for case include Dumisa Tsebenza SC, Elizabeth Makhanani Mere, Gideon Phalatse and Caphus Mboweni.
But Ntebeza and Makhani Mere are the ones who have applied to appear in court for the presidential election appeal case.
Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha has said he only learnt about the matter in the media but expfressed ignorance of any government arrangement.
So too Secretary to Treasury – convicted for contempt of court – Cliff Chiunda also claimed he is not in the know.
But financial experts including Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Sosten Gwengwe, a former Cabinet minister, said Treasury is supposed to be in the loop for such particular contract financed from public funds.
Malawians – taxpayers who finance the public purse – have raised many questions on social media about hiring the foreign lawyers when the country has many trained and experienced lawyers who can handle the appeal.
With the country being in dire straits economically, the foreign lawyers contract is being deemed as insensitive to citizens needs.
Apart from the contract, Idriss Ali Nassah was a fierce social and political commentator, has highlights that the hired Limpopo lawyers were recently in the news in South Africa, representing controversial Mpumalanga businessman Sam Chabalala, who has since absconded court and has gone missing.
Chabalala was on trial for corruption, illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, illegal entry and remaining within the borders of South Africa, providing false information to be granted entry into the country and bribery after he allegedly attempted to bribe a senior police officer to make his docket disappear.
“Perhaps that is why someone hired them, for their expertise representing those accused of corruption and subverting the ends of justice,” Nassah commented on his Facebook wall.
Meanwhile, lawyer representing first petitioner in the presidential case, UTM Party president Saulos Klaus Chilima, Dr Chikosa Silungwe Chikosa has said his team is more than ready to argue their case before the Supreme Court when full hearing of the appeal commences on April 15 this year.
Silungwe said it doesn’t matter where appellants’ legal counsel are coming from, saying all he knows is that the court is the only battle field and that shit is shit no matter how it is dressed.
“We don’t care where lawyers for the Electoral Commission come from. It doesn’t matter whether the lawyers come from Mars or Earth.
“We shall meet in court, and let me inform you that court cases are determined by facts presented in the court of law and not where that particular legal officials are coming from, let me remind you that I have three degrees,which one of it is a PhD,” Silungwe said.
The South African lawyers have been hired for the following tasks: merit determination, advice, preparation and prosecution of the appeal case which they will be paid from taxpayers $788 500 (about K600 million), half of which has already been paid in advance.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :