By: Lloyd M’bwana
Justice delayed its justice denied. This is what Ulemu Msungama a Parliament Candidate (Malawi Congress Party) who contested for Lilongwe City South East constituency is currently experiencing, with almost two years elapsed without getting timely justice on the matter after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in October, 2014 granted his counterpart -Bentrey Namasasu (Democratic Progressive Party) an injunction stopping the rerun of the seat following High Court order.
Msungama successfully challenged the results for the disputed 2014 elections for the constituency including Kaliyeka, Chilinde, Kawale, Barracks, Area 24, 23, Namichimba, Benito which saw MEC declaring DPP Bentrey Namasasu declared as a winner.
The Maravi Post (MP) reporter, Lloyd M’bwana in the capital Lilongwe over the weekend caught up with Msungama on the prospects of the case, how he feels on the delays whether the stand-off proves that Malawi’s judicial system is corrupt. Excerpts:
MP: Mr. Msungama, we know the matter on the floor is still in court. But our readers including your constituents want update on the issue. So, can you tell us why have we reached this far on this case?
Msungama: As you are aware that the elections in that constituency was marred with irregularities and we petitioned MEC that the results produced were not true reflection on the ground. Then the High Court ordered the recount of the votes but prior to the day of that exercise, my DPP counterpart got a court injunction stopping the whole process.
The stay order was just for a week thereafter our friends failed to produce enough evident for such an injunction as the result the same court sustained its earlier decision that the votes be recounted.
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The night before for an exercise, it’s when MEC offices were gutted with fire destroying all evidence for the recount process which shocked all us. After that incident the court demanded us added information to supplement the evidence which eventually the court get satisfied, consequently Lilongwe City South East Constituency seat was declared vacant that by-election should be conducted.
After that ruling, our friends went to the same court for another stay order which was not allowed consequently they went further to the Supreme Court for an injunction which was granted in November 2014 till now.
MP: Mr. Msungama, the stand-off on the disputed elections results remain at the Supreme Court despite the lower court ordered the re-run of the elections in Lilongwe City South West Constituency. How do you feel almost two years waiting justice to prevail?
Msungama: Yah, just like other person, I still feel bad because as you might aware that this issue has been in the court for too long since May 2014 to February 2016. It’s quite pathetic and annoying but at the same time there’s nothing I can do apart from banking on court determination. The High Court did its part but Supreme Court decided otherwise by granting a stay order on the run of the elections.
MP: You earlier told us that there’s nothing you can do apart from waiting the court to decide, constituents are asking, what’s the future for this case?
Msungama: Okay! As, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) but also as Ulemu Msungama, a candidate, we respect the laws of the land as the nation is governed by statues. So, we believe that law will take its course on this case no matter how one might twist the whole process of justice. When the High Court ordered the recount, we obliged to that but our friends stopped the whole exercise while in the course of time MEC house gutted fire. What did the court say, maintained its stance of re-run, but what did our friends do, getting a stay order from Supreme Court. Looking at all these series of events, the party including myself, we could decide otherwise but we chose to follow the law.
MP: While the matter is still at the Supreme Court, we head the Malawi Police Service (MPS)’s Inspector General saying the gutting fire of MEC offices was a normal fire not a man made. How did you receive the news?
Msungama: Honestly, it shocked us regarding to the series of events prior to that fire damage. We took that statement as a junk as they failed to produce a comprehensive report. We led the information in the media. Remember the fire gutted down MEC office a day before to the recount, my question and lest of people are asking is, do we need to have a rocket science to establish the cause of the fire? I believe, we are living in modern world where the wrong doings can’t be
hided for long.
MP: Now, it seems you are in dilemma on this matter. So, have you given yourself the time frame for this case that no matter how cost might take but the case must be concluded? Or you will still waiting the court determination even towards 2019?
Msungama: mmmmm, (Doubting) not in dilemma, Sir! Like I said earlier, the matter is still in court and I wouldn’t give the court time frame on this as much as I would have loved the case be concluded yesterday but I don’t have power to push for the court to do that. What I know for sure is that I won the elections looking at the series of events have been happening.
MP: Should we read too much that our judicial system is corrupt regarding to how your matter has been handled?
Msungama: Aaaaaa, (doubting) don’t put words in my mouth. I wouldn’t say that our courts are corrupt which I believe it’s not like that. If you follow closely on this matter, it’s the same judiciary that saved us for this far as it didn’t take side though the Supreme Court decided otherwise. In my understanding the High and Supreme Courts are one and I hope if they communicate properly, will come to one conclusion on this case as to why we reached this far.
MP: Though the stand-off remains like that. How close are you to the people you said voted you into this seat?
Msungama: Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! (Loughs). Nice question. Honestly, I am very close to my constituents as they too many .We always need each other that I go there almost weekly. I still do activities I used to do before I contested on this seat. For instance, every year, I run a Football Bonanza in July to mark my Birthday which still happening despite all this stand-off.
MP: So, if the by-election can be held today, will you claim thevictory again as you put it?
Msungama: Wow! I feel the people can decide on what they did to me in 2014 elections. I have confidence in them because they have never let me down.
MP: Based on the current situation you are in now, what are your constituents telling you?
Msungama: They are angry and like mad people bearing in mind that the case has taken so long. Some people are speculating that I got money from DPP for me to fail fast racking the case. But the case is still in court. Therefore, through your publication (The Maravi Post) people will be able to know where the issue is as I can’t reach everyone. They are waiting for a re-run as soon as possible because it’s like living in a dilapidated house which needs maintenance.
MP: Mr. Msungama, your counterpart, Bentry Namasasu still regarded as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the area. So, how do you manage your supporters living happily with the person believed to be stolen the show for you as a legitimate legislator?
Msungama: Like what I have saying all along, I am a law abiding person which still translate to my constituents that they wait the court determination on the matter rather resorting in violent acts. Therefore, let me appeal to you and other reporters to find out how the constituent is fairing under that person.
MP: Despite all the court’s stay order, you are stilling ushering developmental projects. Why are you doing all of this and where are
you getting the courage?
Msungama: Wonderful question! Let me tell you this. I was born and raised in Area 23 and schooling at Kaliyeka, Chilinde and Barracks that I have passion for my people. In fact, I didn’t join politics for money though other people might dispute this. As much as we wish the nation to develop, my constituency which is also a home must benefit through my participation. I believe a can make a different in that area.
MP: Mr. Msungama, with due respect, you are fighting a loosing battle! Why can’t you bow down to this fight and just wait for 2019 elections?
Msungama: You are very funny! Asking me those questions is the same as asking me why I support Arsenal, Manchester or Liverpool football clubs in England. Fighting a loosing battle? I don’t think so! I can’t give up now because I have a dream which must be revolved. It’s a tragedy to win a race which you never expect to win. It’s tragedy when hopes die in despair. It’s also a tragedy when what you could have failed into reality. Simply put, if you have a dream, you make sure it’s pursued.
MP: Why do you think, you are the right person for that area unlike your counterpart?
Msungama: Wow! What a question, Sir! It’s not necessarily that Ulemu Msungama is the right person but the people made a decision to that effect. This was based on my manifesto which was provided to the constituency eventually I was rewarded for that.
MP: Our readers want to know your private life apart from politics. How old are you? Are you married and what is life outside politics?
Msungama: This is getting exciting, Sir! Actually, I am 33 years old but will be 34 in July this year-2016. I am a born again Christaian since 1980s and servant of the living God. I did Theology in Austria. I do minister at the church but above all I am into
entrepreneurship-construction industry through Jil Construction Company which brings me food on the table. I am a contractor since
2001. Currently, I am not yet married but I have I fiancée which we expect to tie the knot this year as she is still at school.
MP: You are into pastoral, politics and entrepreneurship. What should young people read on your life?
Msungama: My message to young people is that they should have dreams. I have always followed Martin Luther King life which inspires me a lot on important of having dreams in life. We are in a journey leaving from point A to B and final destination is point Z such that in between of these points one has to go through the test of life. Let’s be original of ourselves not a carbon paper of the other.
MP: Finally, Mr. Msungama, what should the general public including constituents read on this court stand-off?
Msungama: Well! The court stand-off has given a big lesson in life. They need to wait for our legal team to appear in the Supreme Court proceeding that for sure justice might be prevailed though it has taken long.
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