Trial of the first-ever parliamentary election petition of the 2019 chaotically managed tripartite election—ironically to be the last to be disposed of—involving Gerald Kazembe and Ralph Jooma of Mangochi Monkey-Bay Constituency concluded yesterday in High Court, Blantyre Civil Registry, before Judge N’riva.
Gerald Kazembe who is currently the Second Deputy Secretary-General of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and was then a candidate moved the courts to have the election of Ralph Pacharo Jooma whom the Electoral Commission declared winner with 9,341 votes against his 9,052 votes, nullified and a fresh election ordered citing what he described as massive irregularities by the electoral body, which compromised the integrity of the election.
“After a protracted court battle due to the covid19 pandemic, the trial has now come to an end. We will be making our final submissions with the presiding Judge, Honorable N’riva, within 14 days. Thereafter, we will all be waiting to hear from the High Court Registrar on when the case will be set for delivery of judgment,” said Kazembe after the trial.
“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but in the end grind exceedingly just. It has been a long journey but we came here to seek justice for the people of Mangochi Monkeybay, we didn’t give up, we didn’t abandon our people who felt robbed,” added Kazembe.
Throughout the trial, Ralph Jooma, whose witnesses were not strategically cross-examined by Kazembe’s lawyer, Dzozi, was seen with his wife nearby perhaps in a gesture of solidarity in such defining moment of his political career.
The courts have nullified parliamentary seats in all the constituencies where aggrieved candidates like Kazembe petitioned the courts. Recently, the Malawi Congress Party team of campaigners led by Hon Abida Mia, Hon Ellyas Karim, and Gerald Kazembe himself won the two out of three constituencies in the Shire-Valley which were nullified by the courts—cutting short political careers of veteran members of Parliament, Francis Kasaira of Nsanje Central Constituency and Esther Mcheka Chilenje of Nsanje North Constituency who were replaced by Kafandikhale Mandevana and Enock Chizuzu respectively.