Malawi Chief Elections Officer Enters Re-Examination - Some Pages in Bdo Audit Report Missing

2 December 2019

Lawyers for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have finished cross examining the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chief elections officer Sam Alfandika regarding the conduct of the May 21 Tripartite Elections whose results the MCP and UTM Party are disputing to have been dogged with irregularities.

The chief elections officer Sam Alfandika: Enters re-examination

On Monday December 2 2019, second petitioner's lead counsel Modercai Msisha focused on supply of correction fluid, popularly branded as Tipp-Ex, the auditors (BDO Jordan) report and the letter by the electoral body to the auditors authorizing them to accept tally sheets which had signature of the presiding officer only.

The hearing in the morning kicked off with a duel between the lawyers regarding request by the MCP legal team to play a clip from an interview which MEC Chairperson, Jane Ansah had with Joab Chakhaza of Zodiak Broadcasting Station in his famed Cruise 5 programme.

Lawyer for MEC, Tamando Chokhotho argued that allowing the clip it court amounted to bringing of new evidence using the backdoor but Senior Councel (SC0 Msisha insisted that the clip was not new evidence but was material to the issue Alfandika was being cross examined on.

After consulting the othe four judges in the panel, Judge Dingiswayo Madise allowed the clip to be played in court. In the clip Justice Ansah was telling Chakhaza that there was no investigation done as to who supplied the Tip-Ex to the presiding officers.

And when it was put to Alfandika if the MEC chairperson was lying since he told the court that an investigation by MEC showed that the Tip-Ex came from the Teacher Development Centres, the MEC CEO maintained his stand.

"The MEC chairperson answered that question in reference to the time the results were being received. By that time there was no investigation done. This investigation was done later," he explained though lawyer Msisha still wanted to push his way to exert pressure on Alfandika to admit contradiction.

Alfandika in his sworn statement, had alluded to the fact that since MEC never supplied Tip-Ex but was used during tallying, and the fact that most Constituency Tally Centres were based in Teachers Development Centre (TDCs), then the TDCs were the source of the Tip-Ex .

Counsel Msisha wanted to prove that some tally centres were not in TDCs but still had results that had Tip-Ex and therefore laying a base of his argument that Tip-Ex might have been supplied by the electoral body or someone with an aforethought.

Senior Counsel Msisha also tried to corner Alfandika regarding the source of Tip-Ex by producing several results forms and asked him to identify which Constituency Tally Centre they were from and also confirm if the tally centre was a TDC or not.

Alfandika answered that he could not know by heart whether a centre was a TDC or other public places that were used by MEC to serve such purposes.

The MEC CEO explained that majority of the TDCs but some were located in public places that were convenient for that purpose.

"If we say the Tip-Ex originated from the TDCs we also have to look at the fact that the Constituency Returning Officers were Primary Education Advisors who are from TDCs and we have also have to look at the distance of the places from the TDCs," he explained.

Late, the MEC chief elections officer tussled with counsel Msisha regarding the report by auditors, BDO Jordan, which had some pages missing.

Msisha queried whether the report was discussed by the Commission, if there were minutes and why it was not cited that the pages were missing.

Alfandika said they had noted everything the lawyer had presented, that the Commission had deliberated on the report and that the minutes were not presented in court but were available.

Then Msisha went on to cross examine Alfandika on the letter by MEC to the auditors authorizing them to accept results that were altered manually and with only signature of the presiding officers and none of the monitors. Msisha wanted the letter and Alfandika explained that the letter was available but not brought to court.

Alfandika explained that the auditors were not supposed to reject results because it was not within their scope of terms of reference. By law it was only the Malawi Electoral that was supposed to accept or reject election results.

The court is expected to reconvene later in the afternoon of Monday, 2nd December, 2019 for re-examination of Sam Alfandika by MEC lawyers.

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