Malawi: MEC Lawyers Finish Cross-Examining Suleman

Lilongwe — Qualifications of Lazarus Chakwera's final witness, Daudi Suleman were plunged into question at the Constitutional Court yesterday Tuesday as Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) lawyers finished cross-examination.

MEC lawyers, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale and Tamanda Chokhotho on Tuesday completed their cross-examination of Daudi Suleman with questions on the witness' qualifications being one of the main area of focus, as they tried to prove his claim that he is an IT expert. This followed the witness' claims through his sworn statements that he demonstrated and simulated before the court, where he alleged that as an ICT specialist, he observed that the electoral body used computer systems to manipulate results.

Suleman is the sixth witness for Malawi Congress Party's Chakwera who is the second petitioner in the high profile presidential elections case in which Chakwera and UTM's Saulos Chilima are challenging the election of incumbent President Peter Mutharika in the 21 May 2019 tripartite election.

Chokhotho in particular, from the onset cornered the witness to produce his transcript to prove his claim that he obtained a certificate from Microsoft, a United States-based multi-national technology company. He also questioned the witness as to why his certificates are not updated as his sworn statements indicate that he obtained a certification in ICT in 2004.

In addition to questioning the witness' qualification as an IT expert, MEC lawyers also put the witness' understanding of the electoral process to a test. Kaphale in particular quizzed the witness on whether the approval of results by MEC's commissioners were being done in the system or manually using tally sheets.

At one time, the Attorney General asked the witness to read from the elections manual and the presentations that MEC made, in a bid to put it to Suleman that the electoral process did not provide for the approval of results in computer systems, a claim that Suleman said he does not agree with.

Speaking to the media after the adjournment of the court, Chokhotho said they were impressed with the process, saying their team had managed to show very clearly the wrong claims that the witness had made in his sworn statements and demonstrations.

"With the few queries that we ran through, we have managed to show that he is not necessarily an expert and he has shown that he doesn't really understand the electoral process for him to be able to audit it. There are certain things that the witness was not looking at properly and he made a lot of errors and by the time that we conclude the trial it shall be very clear," Chokhotho said.

In his remarks, lawyer for Lazarus Chakwera, Senior Counsel Mordechai Msiska said his witness has been able to demonstrate that he is an expert in the field of ICT.

"Anyone who has listened to the evidence and the explanation of Suleman would conclude that his competence is beyond question. And he does possess the necessary qualifications. The fact that he obtained his certification a long time ago does not mean that he ceases to be an expert," said Msiska.

Earlier in the day, the court also ruled that MEC's Chief ICT Officer, Mr. Muhawi Chisi should be allowed to use MEC's gadgets and servers to also simulate and demonstrate the evidence contained in his sworn statement.

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