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Daudi Suleman ‘lays bare’ Mec system

By Rebecca Chimjeka & Faith Kadzanja:

Sixth and last witness for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in the ongoing election petition case Daud Suleman claimed that results of May 21 Tripartite Elections were not fully processed before Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) announced the final results.

Suleman, who continued testifying in the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe Friday, said only 3,677 out of 5,002 results were available in Mec system.

Suleman, who is an Information Technology (IT) specialist, told the court that Mec system that was used in the May polls was manipulated.

He demonstrated how the ghost account was allegedly created to approve results, which he said were being made by Mec IT team using personal emails despite the employees being public servants and guided by ICT policy that does not allow use of private mail, unless formal application to an ICT organisation is sought.

He, therefore, told the court that Ghost User processed 4,880,326.08 out of 5,031,264 votes that were processed in the database, representing 97 percent of the total valid votes.

Suleman told the court that Mec data was inconsistent and it used weak controls deliberately allowing Mec officials to use their private email such as Yahoo, G-mail and Hotmail addresses to log into the database.

At some point, lawyers representing Mec and President Peter Mutharika objected to Suleman’s presentations which explained how Mec deleted the files.

He also explained that there was no way two people could log in on the same computer at once and there is no way one kit can be found in two different constituencies.

“There was no segregation of user’s roles, in the system, for example one user Muhabi Chisi had many profiles, Muhabi Chisi had many user names used at different levels. Chisi could log in as admin and approver at the same time (approved two tally sheets at the same time). Auditors could log in as first user and approver at the same time and these are Bernadette Gondwe, Patience Mtimaukanena and Chifundo Kapindula,’’ claimed Suleman

He continued explaining to the court on simulation claiming that about 156 tally sheets were manually approved while 4,846 tally sheets were not approved by the commission.

He said these were processed three times using batch processing mode contrary to the setout workflow.

Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, who is representing Mec in the case, said he could not comment much on the allegations saying they are going to establish much from Suleman after cross examination.

“Once the Monday simulation ends, we are going to talk to our IT specialists and then engage the witness in cross examination in the afternoon. Allegations remain allegations and, at this stage, they remain allegations, so why don’t we wait until we cross examine the witness?” he said.

MCP Senior Counsel Modecai Msisha said they are happy that the witness had given the court appropriate evidence.

“What we have established is that you cannot say you have the result that represented on what happened in various constituencies. You look at the evidence, we do not know what are the correct figures because the system was interfered with,’’ he said.

The court adjourned to Monday morning when Suleman is expected to finalise presenting his simulation and then be cross examined.

Since Mec declared Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party winner of May 21 Tripartite Elections, tension has been hovering around the country, with some quarters disputing results of the elections.

Mec announced that Mutharika got 1,940,709 votes, representing 38.57 percent of votes cast, while MCP president Lazarus Chakwera got 1,781,740 votes, representing 35.41 percent.

UTM’s Saulos Chilima came third after getting 1,018,369 votes, translating into 20.24 percent of votes counted.

MCP and UTM are challenging the presidential election results in court, seeking nullification of the results.

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