Malawi: Kaphale, MCP Witness Tussle Over Miscounted and Total Parallel Tally Votes

11 October 2019

As the cross-examination of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera, Peter Lackson Chimangeni by Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale, who is representing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in the presidential election petition case heated up, there were disagreements over the total "miscounted" ballots and total parallel tally center votes which are exhibited before the Constitutional Court hearing the case.

Petitioners: Chakwera (L) and Chilima at the court seeking re-run

This followed MCP's votes tallying which showed the the party torch bearer won with 1 955 901 votes followed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Arthur Peter Mutharika with 1 873 689 votes and UTM's Saulos Chilima who had 1 022 144 votes.

The results, according to Chimangeni's sworn statement meant that Chakwela had over 82000 more votes than Mutharika, who was declared the winner by MEC.

Earlier on Chimangeni had told the court that their investigations indicated that there were about 1.4 million ballots which marred with irregularities such as use of tippex, duplicates and some had not party or presiding officers signatures.

In his sworn statement, Lackson indicated that a, 412 105 votes had irregularities relating to use to use of duplicate, counterfeit, tippexed and altered forms, pointing out that Chakwera had won the election by 82 212 votes

Asked if the 82000 votes which Chakwera won with, according to the party's parallel tally centerwere part of the 1.4 million 'bad' votes which were supposed to be 'thrown away,' the MCP witness confirme, saying the former was arrived at after further investigations while the later was used for comparative reasons.

"Is it consistent for you to say that the 1.4 million bad ballots should be thrown away and later you use them to declare a certain candidate a winner with 82000 votes which are within the bad ballots?" asked Kaphale to which Lackson replied that "yes because they were used after further investigations."

He failed to justify that assertion especially as, he admitted that the 82 212 votes also had within them results derived from duplicates, counterfeits, tippexed and altered forms.

Further, Lackson refused to be drawn into a conclusion that it was a contradictory statement to say there were 1.4 million bad ballots and there was a winner with 82000 votes that are within the bad ballots saying that these were benchmarks for proving that there were irregularities in the elections.

It took Justice Dingiswayo Madise to remind Kaphale that the second petitioner ammended his petition by removing a call to be declared a winner, for line of questioning on MCP parallel tally center's results which showed that it's president won the elections.

In his supplementary sworn statement, the witness had indicated that he had set out to unravel the mystery of Chakwera's 82 212 votes. However, when taken to task on his findings, it was noted that the witness was dealing with ballots and not votes, and he was at pains to explain how ballots can be converted into votes.

Kaphale said: " The number of ballots does not translate into the number of votes. This is why you found it necessary to remove the votes and replace it with a ballot paper."

Lackson, who dismissed the proposition, told the court that the party looked into the results of 90 percent of the total votes national wide while MEC helped them with 10 percent.

Chakwera, who is second petitioner in the case, is alongside UTM Party president Saulos Chilima (first petitioner), challenging the re-election of President Peter Mutharika, alleging that the presidential results in May were marred by irregularities and fraud.

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