Cross-examination of UTM roving monitor, Mirriam Gwalidi, resumed Tuesday in Lilongwe after the Constitutional Court reconvened for the second phase of hearing the election case, following a week-long break.
Chairperson of the panel of Judges, Justice Healey Potani, said the court had extended the second phase of the hearing to 14 days from nine days it had earlier announced before adjourning to yesterday.
Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale continued cross-examining Gwalidi focusing on Malawi Electoral Commission’s (Mec) forms 60 and 66c of results sheets of different polling centres as a matter of comparing each form and confirming whether the monitors signed or not and if the valid votes matched.
Kaphale’s line of questioning, however, did not amuse Chikosa Silungwe, lawyer representing UTM leader Saulos Chilima, who expressed concern over how questions were being handled saying it was contrary to the wish of the court to expedite the process.
Silungwe said with the presence of the forms, Kaphale could have been asking questions on a bundle of documents instead of going through each form.
But Kaphale, while referring to the conduct of the witness in answering the questions, also said the objection was the same as barring them from asking questions.
“If the witness would just answer the questions straight, it would have been better. I ask two questions, the witness is answering 10 questions I haven’t asked,” he said
But Justice Mike Tembo overruled the objection saying the line of questioning was appropriate
Nevertheless, when Kaphale continued with the cross-examination, he took Gwalidi through some of her statements which indicated some pages of a log book carrying signatures but of one person for Thyolo West while in Chitipa District there were two log books instead of one which also had discrepant data.
Gwalidi also confirmed that materials that Kaphale used for cross-examination had not brought alternative results to the court.
Tamando Chokhotho, another lawyer for Mec, took over the cross-examination floor bordering on events surrounding the inspection of materials at warehouses, an exercise that was done in July 2019 with a court recommendation.
But when Gwalidi confirmed having some notes that were handwritten by others, Chokhotho asked the court to strike them out.
“We cannot continue examining on hearsay because it is only the author who can provide the truth,” he said.
Chilima’s lawyer Bright Theu argued against the application.
Potani, in his ruling, declined the application.
“The notes were meant for private use by authors as representative of the first petitioner. We rule that the notes shall remain on record as evidence that they were made but not as the proof of truth in their content. But the notes are hereby declared as hearsay evidence,” he said
Chilima and MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera are challenging the results of May 21 2019 tripartite elections saying they were marred by irregularities.