Court to rule on crucial applications Monday
The Constitutional Court in Lilongwe will on Monday deliver its determination on whether to allow Malawi Congress Party (MCP) witnesses, Peter Lackson and Anthony Bendulo, to amend and insert additional documents in their sworn statements.
The court will also rule on whether to grant a prayer by lawyer for President Peter Mutharika, Frank Mbeta, to allow Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to furnish his team with packing notes of various voting equipment as made available by the printer of the ballot boxes in Dubai.
When the court resumed sitting yesterday, Mbeta said the documents would help his team in cross-examining witnesses in the case.
While lawyers for second petitioner, MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera, did not object to the application, lawyer for first petitioner, UTM’s Saulos Chilima, Marshal Chilenga, objected to the application saying the documents being asked for were already sought in August but was not made available to the court.
“My Lady and my Lords this document that is being sought now, it was subject of the disclosure as goods received note. This was a matter that was dealt with on 27 June, they said it wasn’t there. And the application failed because the documents were not there on 27 June, 2019.
“And, indeed, if you look at the sworn statement of David Matumbika Banda, it shows the goods that were received up to constituency level and that is the same document that we had sought. So, on that my Lady and my Lords, we are back to the case of documents not being there and suddenly being there,” Chilenga said.
But Mbeta argued that what the Chilima team was looking for is different from what he is seeking now saying Chilenga and team were looking for goods received note while Mbeta himself is seeking for a packing note as issued by the printer of the ballot papers.
The court also heard an application by lawyer representing Chakwera, Modecai Msisha to amend and insert additional information in the sworn statements of MCP witnesses Lackson and Bendulo.
Msisha argued that the amendment was designed to change some words such as ‘votes’ so that they read ‘ballot papers’ as well as insert some
documents which were inadvertently skipped.
Making the submission, lawyer for Chakwera, Titus Mvalo, argued that the amendment was not made to introduce new evidence but to provide better facts and additional examples of the issue.
However, the court wondered why the Chakwera camp has taken close to two months to arrive at the decision to amend and insert the new information in the sworn statements of the two.
But Mvalo argued that there has been a lengthy debate between the legal team and the witnesses on the matter.
Lawyer representing Mutharika, Madalitso Mmeta, pleaded with the court not to grant the Chakwera camp its wish saying they were only trying to sneak in fresh evidence in the case.
“The time for filing amendments elapsed on August 6,” Mmeta said.
Chairperson of the judges’ panel hearing the case, Healey Potani, said the court will rule on the two application on Monday.
Potani could, however, not indicate the specific time for the ruling on Monday saying the court communicate the time in due course.
Chilima and Chakwera are disputing the results of the May 21 elections which declared Mutharika the winner.
Chilima and Chakwera are asking the court to nullify the elections arguing that they were marred by many irregularities.