University of Malawi clears UP leader Chisi, case in court

Disqualified opposition Umodzi Party (UP) president, Professor John Chisi was cleared by University of Malawi (Unima) to contest in the May 20th tripartite elections, documents Nyasa Times has sourced can reveal.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) a week ago¸ using Section 51 of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, disqualified Chisi on basis that he still holds public office-as lecturer at College of Medicine- despite Unima stand he no longer exists on its employment list.

Letters exchanged between Mec and Unima prior to Chisi’s disqualification, which Nyasa Times obtained, reveal that the Electoral body, a day before nomination papers presentation exercise that ran from February 10th to February 14th, sought a clarification on UP president’s employment status.

Chisi (L) with MEC chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera during the nominations
Chisi (L) with MEC chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera during the nominations

Mec wrote Unima on February 9th, 2014 requesting the university office to furnish them information regarding to Professor Chisi’s employment status.

Unima through its Registrar, Benedicto Wokoma Atani Malunga on February 20th, a day before Mec disqualified Chisi, responded, clearing the mist surrounding his candidature in regards to his employment standing as a public officer.

The university, in a letter titled ‘Employment Status of Professor John Chisi of College of Medicine’, disclosed that the UP president is no longer its employee following a grant of Leave of Absence prior to presentation of his nomination papers on Thursday February 13th at Comesa Hall in Blantyre. .

“He (Chisi) was granted Leave of Absence and no longer on the University of Malawi payroll,” reads the letter in part.

Meanwhile, Umodzi Party has hired Chisanga and Tomoka law firm which has since filed lawsuit at the High Court challenging MEC’s decision to bar its torch bearer.

According to court files, Mec filed its response to the lawsuit by only attaching copy of the letter which they received from the Unima without any facts on which to base their arguments.

Mec Media and Public Relations Manager, Sangwani Mwafulirwa refused to comment on the issue when contacted on Saturday, arguing the matter was still in court.

Said Mwafulirwa: “The issue of eligibility of candidate of Professor John Chisi has been litigated therefore I am restrained in commenting to avoid being sub-judicial to the process. At the moment we wish to avoid setting up a parallel hearing of the case in the media”.

However, Mwafulirwa insisted that Chisi would remain suspended unless the court overturns MEC’s decision.

When contacted, Chisi said: “I can’t say much right now but just know that what the party wants is to have a holistic approach to the issue”.

Following his disqualification, Mec returned Chisi’s presidential nomination fee amounting to K1 million.

Chisi was among the 12 presidential candidates that presented their nomination papers in the run up to the May 20th elections, and is only one disqualified, leaving the race open to 11 candidates.

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