Lawyers hired by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to represent it in the presidential elections appeal case face a race against time as they will, among other things, be required to go through the mandatory 14-day quarantine due to the Coronavirus also known as Covid-19.
Hearing of the case is scheduled for April 15 which is one week from today which means the lawyers would have not been in quarantine for two weeks. Two weeks ago, Mec officials said they are planning to ask relevant authorities to treat the lawyers as an exception due to the timeframe of the case.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda is Wednesday, April 8, expected to hear Mec’s application to be represented by South African lawyers in the appeal case.
Mec hired South African lawyers Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys to represent the commission in the appeal case after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential elections, and ordered fresh presidential elections to be held on July 2 2020.
Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court Agnes Patemba said Mec finally applied to have their South African lawyers in the appeal case.
“The application [for the South African lawyers to represent Mec] will be on April 8,” she said.
Patemba, however, said regardless of issues concerning the South African lawyers, the case will proceed on April 15 which is Wednesday next week.
Justice Nyirenda directed that the commission should apply formally for the courts to allow their South African lawyers practice in the country.
The directive followed Malawi Law Society’ application asking the courts to allow the South African Lawyers represent Mec in the appeal case.
Addressing the media earlier, Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said the commission has hired the South African lawyers to represent them following the Constitutional Court’s order stopping the Attorney General from representing Mec in the case.
Ansah said most of the local lawyers the commission approached turned them down and that the one who accepted to work with them would be available after April.
Mec insists that the appeal against the Constitutional Court ruling will go on although the commission has already started preparing for fresh presidential election scheduled for July 2.
On top of nullifying the presidential election results in the 2019 polls, the court directed Parliament to pass a number of enabling legislations for the holding of the elections.
Among others, Parliament passed the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act Amendment Bill.
Parliament also passed the Electoral Commission Act Amendment Bill which set new procedures of choosing Mec commissioners saying candidates for such positions should be scrutinised by Parliament before being sent to the President.