7 November 2018

Malawi: Court Rebuffs Malawi Govt On UTM Registration - 'No Reasonable Grounds for Appeal'

Photo: Nyasa Times
Saulos Chilima.

High Court Judge John Chirwa has thrown out an application for leave to appeal against against the November 2 order to register the movement as a political party within seven days, saying there no reasonable grounds for appeal.

Through senior State advocate in the Attorney General's (AG) Chambers Neverson Chisiza, the State is challenging High Court order that the registrar of political parties's decision not to register the movement--which is promoting Vice-President Saulos Chilima's presidential ticket in the May 21 Tripartite Elections was erroneous.

Granting the order, Judge Chirwa said there are no good grounds advanced in the sworn statement in support of the application upon which the court would be persuaded to deprive a successful, litigant of the fruits of litigation.

"It is the considered view of this court that should the Appellant's within appeal be successful, the same will not have been rendered nugatory by the Appellant's compliance with this Court's Order because the Supreme Court can, in that event, order the de-registration of UTM as a party. The application is thus declined," reads the order dated 6th November 2018.

"The Court having made the above determination, it sees no merit in proceeding with the application set for the 13th day of November 2018, the same is hereby delisted," reads the order.

The order effectively means that the Registrar of Political Parties is mandated to register UTM as a political party by close of business day on Friday 9th November 2018, which is the last day of the seven day period which Judge Chirwa gave him in his earlier ruling on the matter on November 2, 2018.

Government through the Attorney General, who was not party to the proceedings of the initial case, expressed interest to appeal against High Court's ruling by seeking leave from the presiding judge to appeal and the matter was set down for hearing on Tuesday next week which the judge has declined and thrown out the application for leave to appeal.

Lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, representing the Vice-President who challenged the rejection of the application in court, said the determination of the Court on November 2 still stands that UTM should be registered as a political party.

He said they expect the registrar of political parties to comply with the ruling.

High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba also confirmed the ruling to have UTM registered is still in force.

Findings from a survey conducted by Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) released this week showed that UTM and its leader are the third most popular grouping after the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

The survey report, dated October 28 2018, was conducted between August and September--barely weeks after UTM was launched--to assess the political environment in the country with 10 months to the elections and give an understanding of the political and economic environment in the country.

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