BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—The Malawi Supreme Court has concluded the hearing of presidential election appeal case challenging the validity of the February 3, 2020 judgment of the five-judge panel of the High Court sitting as Constitution Court which annulled May 21, 2019 presidential election results, citing widespread irregularities in the results management system.
The closure of the hearings on Wednesday evening followed a daylong of oral submissions during which petitioners and respondents made submissions before a panel of seven judges of the top court led by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.
Chief Justice Nyirenda said the six-judge bench of the court will render a ruling as soon as possible and thanked parties in the matter for conducting themselves with decorum.
“We will ourselves adjourn the proceedings to the nearest possible future. We will not commit to a date but we realize how important these proceedings are on the welfare and well being of our nation.
“We will do everything possible to ensure that we revert in the soonest possible time. We will give it our best and therefore that we want to assure everybody that we will get back as soon as we can,” he said.
During oral submissions at the court, Senior Counsel Samuel Tembenu, representing President Peter Mutharika who is the first appellant in the appeal case said there was no legal basis to nullify the May 21 presidential election because the irregularities cited by the petitioners did not affect the final outcome of the poll.
He further argued that the Constitutional Court was wrong to issue consequential orders to Parliament to enact new laws ahead of the fresh presidential election because that role is for the executive arm of government.
Taking his turn, Modercai Msisha, lead lawyer for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera, argued that the burden of proof in an election case lies with the electoral body MEC because it has a constitutional responsibility to manage elections in the country.
Msisha argued that MEC did not perform its duties as an independent Umpire in the May 21, 2019 Presidential poll. He said even the sworn statements of MEC’s own Presiding Officers revealed that the poll was marred by irregularities but the electoral body did not review the whole electoral process.
Initially MEC sought legal services from the South African based law firm Mboweni Maluleke INC to among other; represent it in the appeal case presidential election but Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda objected to the decision on Monday, thereby forcing the electoral body to use local services.
The Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 presidential election and ordered MEC to hold fresh poll within 150 days from the day of the judgment.
MEC set July 2 as a date for the fresh presidential polls and electoral processes are underway in readiness for the same.