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Blantyre Mayoral elections case fails to start

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The case in which one councillor sought leave for judicial review in regards to Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo’s eligibility to vie for re-election failed to start Wednesday.

This followed an objection from the council, which indicated that the claimant’s lawyer did not file a sworn statement attesting to the truthfulness of the facts raised in the claim of his client, Councillor Joseph Makwinja.

He applied for leave of judicial review on Blantyre City Council (BCC)’s decision to allow Councillor Ndipo to seek re-election, having already served in that capacity for two terms.

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BCC is being represented by Mphatso Matandika.

Together with lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General, they objected to the inter partes hearing of the matter, saying Makwinja’s lawyer Noel Supedi had not filed an affidavit confirming the truthfulness of facts as presented by his client.

Supedi said Judge Dingiswayo Madise, hearing the matter online, gave the claimants seven days to file the statement.

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“The judge has given us seven days to file the verification sworn statement because it is a requirement for matters of judicial review,” he said.

Supedi said, while submitting the sworn statement, he would also be submitting a notice for the court to give them a new date.

“We started with Councillor Makwinja only but other councillors have expressed interest in joining the case,” he said.

There was drama at Blantyre City Civic offices on January 19, when there were conflicting reports about whether one councillor had sought the intervention of the courts on the city’s mayoral elections.

BCC Chief Executive Officer Alfred Chanza said the court had not granted an injunction per-se but only called for an inter partes hearing after which the judge would decide on the next course of action.

Before he left the chamber, Blantyre City South East Member of Parliament Sameer Suleman stood and demanded that elections proceed, saying there was no injunction stopping the process.

Other legislators and the majority of councillors in the chamber agreed.

The heated debate went back and forth for close to an hour before the council decided to proceed with the elections after Makwinja denied approaching the court.

On that day, Matandika prepared a sworn statement for Makwinja to sign indicating that he did not approach the court but he was nowhere to be seen to sign the statement as he left Civic Centre premises immediately after voting.

In the end, Ndipo was handed a third term with 18 votes while Makwinja and Gertrude Chirambo got five votes each. Chidika Nyimba got two votes while Gerald Lipikwe got a single vote.

During the elections, Nyambadwe Ward Councillor Funny Balaba Kanojerera was elected deputy mayor with 14 votes against Jonas Kamwendo, who got seven, Leonard Chimbanga [six], Eric Mofolo [three] while Joyce Malunga got one.

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