Judgement day comes Monday
Thom Mpinganjira re-arrested
As the Constitutional Court hearing the presidential election result case is scheduled to deliver its ruling on Monday, there is tension in the country amid security fears.
Most institutions in the public and private sectors, including schools, are set to close even before the day of the ruling fearing violence.
In Blantyre, Joyce Banda Foundation, for instance, has closed early for mid-term holiday due to security concerns.
A communique signed by the school’s Managing Director, Roy Kachale Banda, indicates that the institution will close today.
“The school was scheduled to close on February 14 2020 for the midterm holiday. Due to security concerns around the time of the constitutional court judgement, the school has decided to move the midterm holiday. As such, the school will close on Wednesday and reopen on February 6 2020,” the statement reads.
The uncertainty has also not spared the transport sector.
However, Minibus Association of Malawi vice-chairperson, Heirman Msowoya, said considering that people will still travel on Monday, buses will be on the road.
“We are going to discuss with our chairmen on how best our operators can drive safely, but we cannot rule out buses operating on the particular day because people will still need to travel,” he said.
The court will deliver the judgement after UTM leader Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, who are the first and second petitioners in the case, moved the court challenging the May 21 2019 presidential election results, saying the elections were marred by irregularities.
Little wonder, UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said they were looking forward to the judging day.
“Hearing that judgement will be delivered on Monday is news that excites us. A case that we started in court will now come to an end, it is for the first time in the history of this country to have a presidential election challenged and followed through by the nation to the very end,” Chidanti Malunga said.
MCP spokesperson, Maurice Munthali, said they hope that justice, which Chakwera sought from the court, will be delivered on Monday.
Munthali said: “We are happy to hear about the date of the verdict. We are expecting justice from the court of law and not just a judgement, because justice is what Dr Chakwera sought when he went to court.”
On February 3, when the judgement will be delivered, it will mark exactly 45 days since the constitution court ended hearing testimonies on the matter.
A panel of High Court judges Mike Tembo, Redson Kapindu, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Healey Potani are handling the case.
Meanwhile, business tycoon Thom Mpinganjira was re-arrested yesterday after High Court Judge Justice Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga quashed a court order made by Zomba Principal Resident Magistrate, Ben Chitsakamire, cancelling his warrant of arrest.
Quashing the order, Justice Nyakaunda Kamanga said the steps which Mpinganjira’s lawyers, led by Lusungu Gondwe of Ritz Attorneys, used to secure Chitsakamire to cancel the order are strange, unusual and unethical.
“No lawyer appeared physically at the Magistrate Court in Zomba to get Mpinganjira’s warrant of arrest cancelled although Counsel Lusungu Gondwe claims that he appeared before Magistrate Chitsakamire. Essentially, there was no application and the Magistrate acted on his own motion,” she said.
Justice Nyakaunda Kamanga said there was no record of any authority within the judiciary assigning Chitsakamire the case saying lawyers are not supposed to be calling magistrates around and at night.
“It is not clear as to how the file found itself in the hands of Magistrate Chitsakamire because nobody within the court system assigned him the file. Case management is the responsibility of the courts themselves and not court users. What is this? Is this a kangaroo court or what?” She wondered.
Justice Nyakaunda Kamanga has since ordered Gondwe to stop representing Mpinganjira saying he did not competently advise Mpinganjira on the matter.
Nyakaunda Kamanga has since ordered Gondwe and Chitsakamire to appear before disciplinary committees of the judiciary over what she called their unprofessional conduct on the matter.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Reyneck Matemba, welcomed the order saying Mpinganjira will be taken to court today at 9 o’clock in the morning.
He said Mpinganjira will be charged and allowed to apply for bail which the ACB will not object but ask for some conditions.
“Due to the time factor, we don’t want to be going around seeking midnight court sittings which the court has lambasted. We will then wait until tomorrow to bring him to the court,” he said.
Mpinganjira was initially arrested last week on allegations that he connected to people suspected to have planned to bribe judges hearing the presidential election case but Chitsakamire cancelled Mpinganjira’s warrant of arrest obtained from Lilongwe Magistrate Court, a decision which the judiciary described as irregular.
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda lodged a complaint to the ACB that some people wanted to bribe the judges who are hearing the election case.