Malawi Law Society (MLS) has asked Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda not to allow South African lawyers to take part in the case in which Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and President Peter Mutharika are appealing against the February 3 Constitutional Court judgement of the presidential elections case.
The court, having heard petitions by UTM president Saulos Chilima and his Malawi Congress Party counterpart Lazarus Chakwera that the May 21 2019 presidential election was married by massive irregularities, ordered a fresh poll within 150 days.
And having pondered over the application by Mec to have the South African lawyers on its side in the appeal case, MLS is objecting the application on four grounds.
Secretary of the lawyers’ body, Martha Kaukonde, says Mec flouted provisions in the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, the Public Finance Management Act and the country’s Constitution in their engagement of the services of the lawyers.
“There was, and there is, no reasonableness on the legal fee of $788,500 and the agreement between Mec and Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys fails to satisfy the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act and Rules thereunder,” reads part of the application by MLS.
The association says there is need for reasonable and fair charges for legal services with regard to all circumstances of the case.
It has further notified the court the risk of public health, citing the Covid-19 prevalence in South Africa from where the applicants come from.
MLS has also cited the mandatory 14 days quarantine for any inbound traveller from risk countries as another reason for its objection to the admission of the lawyers from the Rainbow Nation.
According to MLS, admitting the lawyers might mean the postponement of the appeal hearing.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned to next Monday—two days before the actual appeal hearing is expected to commence— apparently because the South African lawyers are supposed to be present in court during the hearing of the application of their admission.
Mec courted controversy after it emerged that the electoral body had hired the South African lawyers at an amount which is equivalent to about K600 million.
In defence of the decision, Mec Chairperson Jane Ansah, claimed their search for local lawyers had been futile, thus opting for those in South Africa.