Malawi: Law Experts Kasambara, Chilumpha Say Chilima Back As Malawi Veep Once Court Nullifies Polls

3 December 2019

A former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara a senior counsel in law (SC) as well as Dr Cassim Chilumpha SC - a former Vice President and law lecturer - have indicated that once the Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe nullifies the May 21 2019 presidential elections it will mean that immediate former Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima will be reinstated as veep.

Chilima: First petitioner in the presidential elections case

Kasambara, writing on his Facebook account, said under Malawi laws nullification would mean fresh elections where teams are allowed to change candidates unlike a re-run where the same candidates on the ticket are the only ones eligible.

"Nullification means back to factory settings of May 20, 2019 (therefore) APM (Arthur Peter Mutharika) and SKC (Saulos Klaus Chilima) will be in charge," wrote Kasambara.

This means that the presidency shall return to the state in which it was prior to the disputed polls, meaning that, as Kasambara observed, Mutharika shall be President and Chilima the Vice President.

Weighing in on the same legal opinion, Chilumpha a lawyer by profession and former Vice President under the late Bingu wa Mutharika, said he recieved queries on Kasambara's opinion of which he said he (Chilumpha) endorsed as correct.

"Within our laws there is no re run but fresh elections in three months. Within those three months, APM will be President and SKC the Vice President," wrote Chilumpha on his Facebook page as well.

Another issue being discussed in the public domain is whether the current vice president Everton Chimulirenji shall enjoy retirement benefits as vice president or whether it shall be deemed that he become vice president illegally and be demanded to return all money that he shall have drawn from the public coffers.

Experts indicate that the declaration of the presidential election and its results as null and void and the subsequent order for fresh election shall have the meaning that there was no presidential election so known by Malawi's governing laws that took place.

"Therefore, the current vice president Chimulirenji will be void ab initio. His recognitions as vice president of the republic shall be deleted from its first footprints. Thus he shall not stand to enjoy any benefits (including retirement benefits) of the office of vice president," chipped in one legal mind on social media.

However, on the question of whether he will be required to return all the benefits that he enjoyed in his illegal vice presidency, "the answer is NO. He shall not be required to do so. The law (in the PPE Act) actually shields him from that liability. The relevant part of the said law states that notwithstanding the nullification, all decisions and actions that were done in due exercise of power related to the nullified authority shall not be rendered null or void".

The five panel judges bench sitting as constitutional court is finalising hearing of the case this week where the feeling from many is that the elections were heavily tampered with and full of irregularities therefore arranging nullification.

UTM and MCP took President Mutharika and the electoral body, the Malawi Electoral Commission to court over the matter seeking nullification.

When hearing concludes on December 6, the judges will give judgement within 45 days. Assuming they need all the 45 days, ruling will be delivered on January 20.

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