Malawi: Kaphale Wraps Up Chakwera Cross-Examination, Concourt Says 'The Journey Still Continue' - Malawi Poll Case Adjourned to Sept 30

20 September 2019

Hearing of the historic presidential elections nullification petition case in Lilongwe has been adjourned to September 30 2019 after Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale on Friday completed his cross-examination on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera, the second petitioner.

Turning up for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in his capacity as government's chief legal adviser, Kaphale in a one day and half cross-examination focused on several issues that Chakwera had listed as irregularities of his petition.

Chakwera conceded that he had not called any polling station monitor to dispute any valid vote count at any polling station.

The MCP leader noted that although he had alleged that throughout Malawi presiding officers did not file result summaries, this was not true as the election results were determined using the very tally sheets that he said did not exist.

He also noted that though he had alleged that monitors were not given results sheets, this was not very correct as he would only parade three witnesses from three polling centres in Zomba Malosa Constituency who made the allegation.

Asked if three polling centres will be a projection of the whole country with 193 constituencies, Chakwera said: "One bridge burnt represents more."

He even said the law says one law broken should entail too many.

Asked if he was an authority to talk on that, Chakwera said "if am wrong the court will decide that."

Chakwera also stated that the party had parallel voter tabulation centres. However he conceded that the centre did not do a comparative tabulation of results for the whole country to enable them show the court which stream at which polling centre had a discrepant result so that the same could be investigated.

The MCP presidential hopeful had also in his petition alleged that the result transmission process was fraught with difficulties. However, he conceded that they had not demonstrated any single result that arrived at the national tally centre altered or tampered with.

Towards the end, Kaphale asked Chakwera to comment on a news conference he held in May in which he talked of "bloodshed" in the country.

But one of the judges Redson Kapindu stopped Kaphale on that line of questioning, saying the court had already made a ruling stopping cross-examination on Chakwera's character or conduct.

"We are not here to hear political machinations, we are here to look at the facts," justice Kapindu said.

Kaphale ended his cross-examination by thanking Chakwera for his corporation.

Chairperson of the five-judge panel, Healy Potani told Chakwera that the first respondent, President Peter Mutharika's lawyers will be next to cross-examining him.

"The journey still continues, "said Potani, who adjourned the matter to September 30.

"That will be a day when the cross examination shall continue. You can go back and rest," Potani added.

Potani said from September 30, the intention is to sit for another three weeks running which will take the matter to October 18 2019.

In his opening statement, MCP lead lawyer Mordecai Msiska said Chakwera's petition would focus on fundamental questions on whether MEC breached its duties under Section 76 of the Constitution and whether MEC injured the political rights of the country's citizens.

He further said the petition would demonstrate to the court fundamental human rights principles and provisions of the Constitution, including those stipulated in Section 12, were violated; how MEC failed to conduct an audit of the results as obliged and flouted the procedures of managing elections as stipulated in the election management manual throughout the process.

Msisha said the electoral body "renegaded" on the stipulated processes aimed at producing credible results and the petition will provide evidence to demonstrate that the election results were "undue returns".

Added Msisha: "There was a result management system and any renegading of that system should be considered an irregularity. On the audit process, we will demonstrate that we still do not have an audit report. We will place a lot of attention on the fact that when you consider MEC as a constitutional and statutory body we will be showing that a marked unwillingness to be forthcoming to place before the petitioners and-when you consider Section 40-the nation, to explain this is what happened. There was clearly an attempt to suppress transparency."

Being heard by a panel of five judges, Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Ivy Kamanga, the case has UTM Party president Saulos Chilima as the first petitioner, Chakwera as the second petitioner. President Mutharika of Democrtaic Progressive Party (DPP), in his capacity as the declared winner, is the first respondent with MEC as the second petitioner.

The petitioners contends that Mutharika "won a fraudulent election" fraught with irregularities, including alleged stuffing of ballot papers with pre-marked ballots, tampering with election results sheets through correction fluid and being found in possession of result sheets at home.

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