The Constitutional Court Wednesday threw out Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and President Peter Mutharika’s application for a stay order of the enforcement of the judgement the court delivered on February 3, 2020.
The Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential elections and ordered a fresh election to be held within 150 days from February 3 2020.
Among other arguments, Mec cited high cost of running the fresh election which is said to be around K43 billion. Mec also asked for an extension of time from 150 days to 261 days if they are to hold the elections.
Delivering its judgement after four hours of hearing arguments from both sides, the court dismissed Mec’s application stressing that democracy is an inherently expensive process while protecting the rights of citizens to have a legitimate person to govern them.
“It is expected that in the course of determining who are legitimate leaders in a democratic set up, expenses have to be incurred therefore expense is not an important impediment in pursuit of election of leaders in line with applicable constitution. We there strike a balance the rights of the citizens, to be governed by those elected through due process,” reads the ruling
Justice Dingiswayo Madise, who read the judgement, told Mec not to panic over administrative costs as the commission uses taxpayers’ money.
The court also dismissed Mec’s grounds that the country will be in chaos if a new president is elected and the appeal by Mutharika and Mec at the Supreme Court is successful.
“In the first place, it is highly unlikely that the elections will take place before the Supreme Court determines the application herein and the main reason is that as submitted by the petitioners appeals generally delay of process of preparation of records, in this case the court record is almost ready,” he said
The panel of the five judges also stressed that its ruling against the involvement of the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale in the case was not a mere comment.
Commenting on the matter Khumbo Soko lawyer for UTM leader Saulos Chilima, expressed gratituted
“We are glad the court has thrown them out and that we do not have the luxury of time because it is important to have leaders in the constitution officers who have found themselves, through due processes,” he said
Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera’s lawyer Pempho Likongwe said they legal team is prepared for Supreme Court case.
“We have very high chances that Supreme Court will uphold the judgement because it very detailed and very well-reasoned,” he said
Mutharika’s lawyer Charles Mhango said they believe they have done their best and will wait for the views of the client.
“We are very prepared with the Supreme Court appeal case, we filed grounds of appeal and we are working on skeleton arguments within the 14 days we should be ready,” he said.