Mutharika remarks over ConCourt ruling sparks mixed feelings

Malawian law experts and  governance commentators have reacted with mixed feeling President Peter Mutharika’s remarks that the Constitution Court’s (ConCourt) ruling  which overturned Malawi’s May 21 2019  election results “inaugurates the death of Malawi’s democracy.”

Mutharika: Considered the  judgement as serious subversion of justice

Malawi Law Society (MLS)  president Burton Chidongondo Mhango argues that Mutharika was within his rights tio comment on the landmark judgement and governance exeprt Makhumbo Munthali also argues that the President is exercising his right to be aggrieved with the ruling and appealing.

Other commentators argue that  fresh elections will be costly to organize, and there is no guarantee of a more competent, professional, and independent electoral commission next time around.

The court’s ruling also introduced a degree of confusion as to whether a majority or a plurality of votes will be required to secure victory in future polls.

In his special addressed aired on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Wednesday, Mutharika said he  considered the judgement as “serious subversion of justice, an attack on our democratic systems and an attempt to undermine the will of the people.”

Mutharika said he has instructed his  legal team to appeal against the judgment and challenge it at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.

Political analyst Vincent Kondowe says it is not easy to overturn unanimous decisions by Constitutional Court judges.

“And when you look at the evidence, and when you look at the magnitude of irregularities that have been expounded by the constitutional court, I don’t think an individual would have much carriage to appeal such type of a court decision.

 

“So, for me, I would encourage President Peter Mutharika not to appeal,” Kondowe said.

 

On his part, Chancellor College law lecturer Garton Kamchedzera questioned the legal ethics of Mutharika’s battalion of lawyers, saying they were supposed to guide the President.

 

Mutharika is also a professor of law.

 

But Kamchedzera said the lawyers should have a critical look at the judgement, themselves and Malawi Electoral Commission before acting in “haste.”

He accused Mutharika team of lawyers for “legal arrogance”.

The legal team for President Mutharika  comprises Frank Mbeta, Samuel Tembenu, Charles Mhango, David Kanyenda and Chancy Gondwe.

Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali  told Nyasa Times that Mutharika who was party to the case a second respondent has a Constitutional right to appeal if not satisfied with the ruling.

“However, it will be interesting to see the areas they will be appealing against especially considering the fact that the High Court found MEC (not Mutharika) in the wrong. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court ruling would even strength the validity of High Court verdict or invalidates mindful of the fact that Supreme Court is the Court of last resort- domestically,” he said.

He nonetheless said: “ There is nothing wrong (legally) with Mutharika appealing. Let him exercise such a right. In fact, it’s part of judicial accountability.”

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Maurice Munthali said the appeal doesn’t worry the opposition.

“The appeal case won’t change anything as far as we are concerned,” Munthali said.

“Because we have gone through the judgment and we feel that the judges have done their work very professionally, very objectively, without any bias and any favor at all in terms of justice.”

Last May, the electoral body led by Supreme Court judge Jane Ansay  declared that incumbent President Mutharika had won another term, bringing in 38.6% of the vote, followed by 35% for  Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera and 20% for Mutharika’s estranged former vice president, Saulos Chilima of UTM Party.

But on Monday, a five-judge panel unanimously ruled that the integrity of the May 2019 election result was “seriously compromised,” placed blame squarely on the shoulders of the Malawi Election Commission, and determined that the announced result “cannot be trusted as a true reflection of the will of the voters.”

The court also reverted the presidency to pre-May 20 2019 elections which meant Chilima is reinstated as the country’s second command.

The highly-anticipated judicial decision came on the heels of months of popular protests, many focused on rejecting ‘Tipp-exed’  electoral results, but others aimed at demanding more respect for human rights from the police force, an end to corruption and better service delivery from government.

Mutharika,  who will remain president until the new election,   has up to six weeks to appeal.

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James Phirj
James Phirj
9 months ago

The right to appeal is a right so no problem exercising a right. However as a president you need to be careful in describing the judgement of a constitutional court as killing democracy. Let’s respect the role of judges and their rulings. If you disagree appeal to the higher court and commit yourself to abide by the supreme court’s verdict. To disrespect the courts is the beginning of lawlessness.

zenizeni
zenizeni
9 months ago

There is no case,Issues raised by Jane only looked at 1/3rd of the overall case when supreme court assess it or not it minor the major issues were irragularities let make justify that there was no any irragularity in discharging there duties.Please DPP won the election and there is nothing that ca stop them from winning.Mr President tiachititse manyazi otsutsawa.Tikavoteso basi ovotawo ndife…………Ndalama tisasupe court please.AMEC atiputsitsa

CheChamba
CheChamba
9 months ago

To be honest, it is only the will of the Lomwes that has been undermined here. Furthermore, it is only the death of DPP that has been inaugurated,tikuyiwona DPP kuyamba kutha ngati makani momwe yinathela AFORD and the once mighty UDF. History has been written how DPP legal team got floured to the ground right from day one of this case through the preliminaries up to the final judgement. Our memories are still fresh about the way Mbeta wasted courts time on professional qualifications of IT guru Suleiman, how Honourable Ben Phiris, Alfandika and Munkhondya testimonies helped to strengthen the… Read more »

Shaka
Shaka
9 months ago

Politics should spare us now

Sahara
Sahara
9 months ago

There’s no mixed feelings here. 99.9% of Malawians agree with the court ruling. These pumbwas thought they would buy judgement and it didn’t work. I thought they were at the forefront saying we should honor the court ruling? So what happened? Just because it didn’t go their way? # Alamupumanimwakalamba

Malawi belong to the citizens

I should start like this,Mr Peter Munthalika is a professor of law ok,but why can he not understand what the constitution court said. The judgement was against the Malawi Electoral Commission for failing to conduct the 21st May general election in professional way.Now am convinced that Munthalika did something to the MEC guys to handle the election process the way they did.If DPP paid some money to twist or change the real results,then he might see it as a double loss why? It’s becoz they paid to win not to lose,which happened and now the courts annulled their win which… Read more »

MNENERI WA MALAWI
MNENERI WA MALAWI
9 months ago

true wise words

Jeff Mpotazingwe
Jeff Mpotazingwe
9 months ago

Fruits fall from a tree when they are ripe; but when a hurricane come, whether ripe or not it has to fall-African Proverb
The storm is over let us move on or we will be on move over the storm. My president know that nothing last forever and as a statesman and abreast with law and order take heed of the time or else history will repeat itself.

Mtete
Mtete
9 months ago

Is he trying to remind us that he is a Law Professor, Mr. Know-it-all. Dzuwa lafika 4pm bwana; time to start off for home.

Gold Ruyondo
Gold Ruyondo
9 months ago

Mutharika bow out.
to avoid embarrassment.
msg from Kampala Uganda.

Gold Ruyondo
Gold Ruyondo
9 months ago

Mutharika bow out,to avoid embarassement .
from Uganda.

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