About 59 days have gone since the constitutional court started hearing the evidence from a horde of witnesses, including information and communications technology experts, monitors, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials and party officials in the ongoing May 21 electoral case in Lilongwe, hearing of evidence has concluded with all parties saying they are pleased.
Days full of drama, excitement and tampers in the land mark case first of it’s kind in Malawi to reach this which others have described as a unifying factor between the two petitioners, UTM party president Dr Sailors Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Dr Lazarus Chakwera who dragged the electoral commission to court for failing to hold the elections according to the Constitution and the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA).
The two petitioners theory is that Malawi had presidential elections full of irregularities and fraud, which they feel was aimed at aiding the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika, who MEC announced won the elections.
This far, out of 750 witnesses who were supposed to be examined before a panel of five judges, only 15 made it into the witness dock, with the rest withdrawn along the way.
However, 714 sworn statements still form part of the evidence before the court because although the witnesses were withdrawn, their statements still stand in court, according to Judge Healy Potani heading a panel of judges who include Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Mike Tembo and Redson Kapindu.
The final day of evidence hearing stunned many as bother UTM and MCP withdrew their cross examination of MEC last witness, ICT director Muhabi Chisi.
According Chilima’s lawyer Dr Chikosa Silungwe, the withdrawal came about because they felt that there was nothing damaging in Chisi’s evidence in chief worth querying.
“You don’t ask questions just because you have time to ask. We observed that the evidence in chief had nothing damaging to our case so we thought it wise not to waste our time cross examining the witness,” said Silungwe, whose reasoning was echoed by MCP lawyer Mordecai Msisha.
Silungwe said he was pleased the matter is getting to reach its logical conclusion.
“The court has done its best that the matter is concluded as quickly as possible: The hearing has gone quite smoothly and I dare say quiet speedily,” Silungwe said.
After all is said and done, all the parties said they are comfortable with the way the case has been handled and feel they have driven the message home.
President Mutharika lawyer Frank Mbeta said they have all the expectation that the case will be thrown out.
“It was a tough one with voluminous documents to work on and respond to, but we feel that we have managed to prove our theory to the court,” he said.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who is representing MEC said they are optimistic with their performance.
“We have done our part and we will continue doing the same as we go into the next phase of submissions. The trial went on well and we are of the view that the court will according to what we have brought before it,” he said.
Silungwe said going by the court proceedings, there are enough reasons for the court to nullify the elections.
“It’s a constitutional mandate that MEC should manage the elections. The manager of the elections is always MEC and nobody else. MEC failed to manage the elections of two fronts which are irregularities and fraud. We have shown how through these irregularities and fraud about one million votes were affected,” he said.
On his part, Msisha said there was no reason for MEC to leave the management of the elections to ordinary people, which had a lot of irregularities.
Justice Potani told the the court that their determination will be solely based on the evidence before the court, properly presented before is and applicable by laws.
“We will not even be taken by public opinion but by the laws of the country in line with with practice and procedures,” he said.
He advised the parties that they should take into consideration that the case came by way of submissions which graduated into a constitutional referral and their submissions should dwell on that.
The order of submissions is that on December 10, the petitioners must file the court and serve a the parties written submissions both in hard and soft copies and the respondent’s must file the court and serve all the parties written submissions both in soft and hard copies.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :