Malawi Electoral Commission Altered Over 1 Million Votes, Court Hears

5 December 2019

There were hair raising and jaw-dropping revelations on Wednesday at the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court hearing the presidential elections nullification petition when it was learnt that the electoral body altered 1,330, 448 votes.

Apart from this, lawyer Khumbo Soko representing first petitioner and UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima managed to have Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the second respondent in the case, second witness Henzily Munkhondya,admit that the electoral body used 1,593, 334 duplicate forms and that the entire exercise was a sham.

All this was in sharp contrast to an earlier attempt during the commencement of the trial by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale that the affected votes were too little to have an impact on valid votes.

However, lawyer Soko managed to expose that MEC gave auditors the same forms to stamp and sign again and again while manipulating the results behind the auditors' backs.

At some point, the cross-examination with Munkhondya, who is the director of electoral services, went as follows:

Counsel Soko: Mr. Munkhondya, yesterday you told the court that you read the BDO report?

Munkhondya: That is correct.

Soko: Did you understand the contents of the report?

Munkhondya: I did.

Soko: Were one hundred per cent of the election results verified by BDO auditors?

Munkhondya: Yes, one hundred per cent of the results were verified by auditors.

Soko: But you said you read the report?

Munkhondya: Yes, I did.

Soko: If you did, you would have come across a passage - written by the auditors themselves - that says they did not verify all the results. Do you remember coming across such a passage?

Munkhondya: I do not.

Soko: OK. Let's go to the file. Can you read paragraph 13 of the BDO report?

Munkhondya: "At the national tally centre, we did not verify all the results."

Soko: Mr. Alfandika told the court that when MEC received the report, a management response was sent in writing to the auditors. Is that correct?

Munkhondya: That is correct.

Soko: And the auditors responded to MEC via email, is that correct?

Munkhondya: So I believe - since that correspondence was between the auditors and our controlling officer.

Soko: Can we go to another file. Now, read Mr. Alfandika's letter to BDO.

Munkhondya: [reads] "We do not agree with your assertion -stated in paragraph 13 of your report - that you did not verify all the results. We hereby kindly request you to amend this paragraph."

Soko: Now, can you read the response from BDO?

Munkhondya: [reads] "We cannot change the paragraph as it is the truth. MEC repeatedly gave us the same result sheets again and again to sign and stamp. In addition, MEC rebuffed our attempts to reconcile the figures and went ahead to post on the screen unreconciled and unverified figures."

As if this was not enough, it was also exposed that over 1 million tally sheets had no signatures and that close to 600,000 votes were recorded on tippex sheets.

Meanwhile, one witness for MEC remains to be cross examined with the court being determined to wrap up hearing on Friday December 6, stressing that if push comes to shove the court will sit on Saturday December 7 to conclude the case.

In the case where President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party, the declared winner, is the first respondent, Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera are challenging the results of the presidential race citing irregularities, especially in the results management system.

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