After months of court hearing and subsequent period for the five judge panel entrusted with the presidential election results case to determine its verdict, the Constitutional Court sitting at the High Court in Lilongwe will issue out its ruling tomorrow, with stakeholders hoping peace and justice will prevail in the wake of the highly anticipated ruling.
Among institutions that have issued last minute statements are the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Malawi Police Service (MPS), Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) as well as rights activists.
Addressing the press in Lilongwe on Saturday, HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo urged Malawians to uphold the rule of law come Monday.
“We are urging Malawians to clearly understand the ruling; if any stakeholder is not in agreement with the ruling, they have the right to appeal. When the court makes its ruling we are also going to address Malawians,’’ he said.
Another member of the grouping, Luke Tembo pointed out that there is a lot at stake.
“It is not enough to just convince the public to accept the verdict of the court before the public examines the merits and demerits of such a verdict. Allow the concerned parties and citizens to make informed decisions after court’s verdict,” he said.
The HRDC leaders expressed hope that security organs, including MPS and Malawi Defense Force (MDF) will be up to task in protecting the lives and property of the people.
MPS Public Relations Officer James Kadadzera said in an effort to enhance security, there will be a security operation tomorrow in and around the Lilongwe High Court.
He said, all roads that lead to the High Court including the Likuni Round about to Lilongwe Town Hall Round about (Glyn Jones Lilongwe Hotel to Lilongwe Golf Club (Tsilanana) and Mtuthama Road, past High Court to Lilongwe Golf Club will be closed.
He said traffic police officers will be directing motorists on which route to use.
He added that this has been done to facilitate smooth delivery of the judgement by the Constitutional Court.
“Access to court premises will only be upon production of a valid Identification document in combination with a gate pass issued by the High Court. All other members that have not been allowed are urged to follow the proceedings from their home or offices,’’ Kadadzera said.
MDF Commander General Vincent Nundwe has also assured Malawians of protection during and after the determination of the court.
The court has set a parameter of 150 meters for people that will be allowed to attend the proceedings.
Monday February 3, 2020 marks exactly 45 days since the court finished hearing testimonies of the case, which started on August 28,2019.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Director of Elections who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ben Phiri, has rallied the party’s supporters to be ready as the ruling could go either way, saying they should be prepared to vote in large numbers should the court order fresh elections tomorrow.
Phiri was speaking in Thyolo on Friday where he urged people to accept the court’s determination whilst stressing that any judgement against the DPP’s victory will be erroneous.
“I want to repeat this; if the court ever rules that there were some anomalies and we have to go back to the ballot the President will remain on his seat, and I will remain a cabinet minister …the court can rule for nullification of the election calling for fresh one within a specific timeframe in such a scenario remain vigilant to go and vote for your President like you did the first time,” Phiri said.
Phiri then added that politics is a game of numbers encouraging the DPP sympathizers to register in large numbers in an event of fresh elections.
“I want to challenge you that we are winning the court case, but in the event that we don’t, let everybody register and take part in the election, because the petitioners in the case want to snatch government away from us,” he stated.
When called for clarification of his remarks yesterday, Phiri reiterated that the DPP as a party is confident of victory, and that the analogy of an expectant woman he used during the rally speaks to realities of everyday life.
But commenting on Phiri’s remarks, Mzuzu based governance expert Chikumbusko Kayira said Phiri’s sentiments have the potential of creating unnecessary tension among people.
“The thing is political leaders have a responsibility to watch what they say to their people, it is not necessary to give people too much hope,” he said.
Meanwhile, MCC board chairperson Bishop Fanuel Magangani and activist Undule Mwakasungula, have in separate statements challenged Malawians, politicians inclusive, to pursue peace and avoid emotive statements.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, UTM president Saulos Chilima and the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) have also urged Malawians to enhance peace after the court ruling.
Chilima and Chakwera petitioned the court last year after the May 21 polls, saying the electoral results management processes were marred with irregularities.