Malawi: Five Judges to Hear DPP 2020 Election Nullification Constitutional Matter Unveiled

President Lazarus Chakwera (top right) and former president Peter Mutharika (file photo).
24 August 2021

One day after the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda certified as a constitutional matter the case where the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is seeking the nullification of June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election, five Judges have been unveiled to hear the matter.

Chief Justice Nyirenda referred the case file to Judge President Sylvester Kalembera on Monday, August 23, 2021 to empanel the Constitutional Court, which the former did that on Tuesday, August 24. 2021, the Registrar of Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court, Gladys Gondwe informed Nyasa Times in an interview on Tuesday.

According to Gondwe, Justices Kalembera (Judge-in-Charge), Rowland Mvundula, Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, Annabel Mtalimanja, and Thom Ligowe will hear the matter. They are expected to meet next Monday, August 30, 2021 to discuss how they would proceed.

The DPP is asking the court to quash the results of the said fresh presidential poll after it emerged that four Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioners were illegally appointed by the former President, Mutharika despite having managed and certified the election and its results.

On June 2, 2020, Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda ruled that former commissioners Linda Kunje, Jean Mathanga, Arthur Nanthuru and Steve Duwa were illegally appointed by former Republican President and DPP leader Peter Mutharika and as such he invalidated their appointment.

The ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP), through its Secretary General Eisnhower Nduwa Mkaka, sued the 'Presidency' for 'wrongly' appointing the commissioners and prayed for their immediate removal.

Following Justice Kenyatta's ruling, the DPP approached the courts to nullify the election of President Chakwera, arguing that if the commissioners' appointment was irregular and illegal then there was no commission when the fresh presidential election was held.

The DPP argues that the same follows for all the subsequent parliamentary and ward council by-elections that were managed by the said former MEC commissioners.

The DPP is seeking "consequential orders and directions that the status of the presidency of the Republic of Malawi reverts to the position it was prior to the appointment of the inquorate and unconstitutional seventh cohort of the Malawi Electoral Commission", basing their application on Section 75 of the Constitution, which talks about the composition of the electoral commission.

The matter initially came before Justice Dingiswayo Madise of the High Court who upon hearing DPP arguments, referred the matter to the Chief Justice for certification as a constitutional matter and empanelling of the Constitutional Court "because the DPP raised serious constitutional issues".

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