Judgement day

The long wait is over. The Constitutional Court delivers its ruling on the historic presidential election nullification petition case that has left a whole country on it's knees in Lilongwe today.

In the case UTM President Saulos Chilima, first petitioner and Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera the second petitioner were demanding nullification of the May 21 presidential election results citing massive irregularities.

Incumbent President Peter Mutharika and DPP candidate was first respondent while Malawi Electoral Commission was the second respondent in a matter heard before Judge President Healey Potani, along with judges Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo who concluded hearing the trial on December 20, 2019.

During hearing, UTM lawyer Khumbo Soko argued that their case mainly dwelt on the law governing elections in Malawi, and the procedures which the Commission put in place for conducting polls.

“We basically didn’t have such kind of an election. I think what we had was a sham or an imitation of an election,” he said.

Lead lawyer for second petitioner Modecai Msisha maintained that an election has certain attributes with a Constitutional body in place to manage the process according to law to ensure that the will of the people is met through the ballot paper.

“Those attributes in summary are to ensure that whatever expression of the will of the people which is managed through the ballot papers is done in a way that leaves no doubt about who has voted and how they voted,” stated the Senior Counsel.

He among others cited the defaced results where tippex was used which disadvantaged other voters' votes through alterations thereby violating the Constitution.

He went on to suggest that as a remedy MEC should be dissolved.

Peter Mutharika’s lawyer Frank Mbeta on the other hand explained that their point was to show that the tippex which was used on the tally sheets, the alterations and use of duplicate sheets were done to capture the correct votes for all the candidates.

“There is nowhere and indeed in this court, no single proof has been provided that shows that Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika got any advantage or any vote that he did not deserve.

“And so is our position is that there is no law that was breached. The Electoral Commission discharged its mandate according to the law," he said.

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and lead counsel for MEC Kalekeni Kaphale told the court that the petitioners' case lacked merit and should be dismissed.

“MEC involved all political parties from the beginning of registration to the polling station. We're disputing that there were illegularities and the law says even if there are illegularities, for them to overrule an election, they must affect the result.

“Well of course, there may have been one or two mistakes. But these are human beings and these were very very sporadic, they did not affect the result. So we are saying, if at all there were any irregularities, these did not affect the overall result off,” said Kaphale.

The judges took 45 days to deliberate on the case.

 But whose side will they be on when they reconvene to pass judgment from 9:00 am today at the court premises where access will be limited to only those with accreditation?

Should the losing party not be entirely satisfied, Supreme and High Court registrar Agnes Patemba has said they can always appeal at the Supreme Court rather than resorting to violence as there is still life after the ruling!