By Katiwenge Chirambo

DPP Election Case: Smartness vs cleverly trickery

Last year, immediately after the appointment of the MEC Commissioners, the MCP rushed to court. But right after Chakwera won through the rigging scheme, they left the issue lying low. 

The MCP was somewhat happy that they are now a party in power. So, they did not have an issue with what they called an “illegal commission” presiding over the election that declared Chakwera President. 

In 2021, because of some long-standing gripe Chakwera and Mkaka had against DPP appointed Commissioners Kunje and Mathanga, they thought it was time to strike. 

The two strong, tough, and uncompromising commissioners were seen as a headache for the MCP. Chakwera and the MCP put their plan in motion.

Their attack was going to be double-pronged. 

Chakwera would use his powers as President to fire them directly. But, if they resist, the MCP on the other side, through Mkaka, must reopen the 2020 case. 

The plans seem to go well, as seen with Zanga-Zanga Chikosi serving the suspension letters. But as expected, Kunje and Mathanga did not take it lying low. They fought – petitioning the courts to reverse the blunder. 

Seeing the looming disaster, the then-Attorney General, Silungwe, quickly cautioned Chakwera on the dire consequences of firing the commissioners. 

But arrogant Chakwera and the MCP would have none of it. 

As Kunje and Mathanga were busy with the appeal, then the second plan of attack was unleashed by Mkaka. They had their judge already, Kenyatta Nyirenda, who was going to deliver the blow.

To avoid any fight and resistance by the DPP, Mkaka directly lodged his case against Chakwera. So, the DPP and its commissioners were not the respondents in the case. All the DPP could do was to watch the game, as Mkaka took his President (Chakwera) to court. 

Chakwera did not oppose, as expected, and as per their plan. 

Mkaka and the MCP leadership were so happy. Kenyata Nyirenda’s ruling was going to deal a significant blow on the planned appeal of Kunje and Mathanga. 

Nyirenda nullified the appointment of Kunje and Mathanga and all the four commissioners nominated by the DPP. Big victory for the MCP. The DPP or the commissioners cannot appeal. It was not their case – but Mkaka vs Chawera. 

Before the MCP could finish their celebrations champagne, Kunje and Mathanga withdrew their plan to appeal – and then the DPP went for a masterstroke and strike. 

Through its Press Statement in July, the DPP went for the big prize, stating that the consequences of the Chakwera and Mkaka would be NULLIFICATION of the 2020 Election and subsequent elections. The MCP snake bit its tail!

But, the big thing is – the case was not based on the election results or events of June 2020 at all. But the violation of Section 75 of the Constitution. 

The MCP and Chakwera were incorrectly advised that the General Interpretation Act and part of the Electoral Act would help them, but no! The DPP lawyers, led by the legal illuminary, Mhango, were ready. 

The DPP is now in court against the state, leaving the MCP out, just like the MCP did to the DPP earlier on. 

Attorney General was left confused by the fact that the DPP was not challenging the electoral results. 

If you look at the papers, the AG is very confused. At first, he thought that the DPP would appeal against the MCP case – but it was not possible to appeal the Mkaka case because the DPP was not a party to it. 

Now the MCP is left with no ability to appeal the judgement in their case to somewhat correct the situation. 

Secondly, the AG thought that there would be a direct challenge against the Electoral Act. But the electoral act has clear timelines on when the appeal against the results of the election can be done. 

Miscalculation! 

The DPP does not want anything to do with the electoral act. In fact, the DPP, in its papers, is saying that the Constitution overrides the electoral act. 

The DPP went directly for the jugular. Lodging an electoral case about the violation of Section 75 of the Constitution. The case is directly against the state, represented by Chakwera. 

The AG remains further confused. But to wiggle out, he tried his last-ditch effort of using technicalities. The DPP clinically crushed those technicalities. 

Again, the AG is now stuck with the advice his office gave to the MEC in April. That “the act of rescission of the appointment of the MEC Commissioners would violate Section 75 of the constitution”. It is on record. He now has no defence on this case. 

From the look of things, the DPP has lodged a case whereby all the affected parties, including the AG, are all reduced into spectators. 

This is a Technical knockout. The MCP, Chakwera, and AG, all outplayed, outmanoeuvred by the DPP, are left reeling with confusion. 

A re-run looks imminent, and the MCP seems to have accepted it, judging by how they have already started with some campaign activities. 

Could Chakwera be reduced to a 1-year president? 

Let’s wait and see. History is loading. 

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the stand of Maravi Post

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