The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has said it is contesting the K7 billion costs which the High Court awarded President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy Saulos Chilima in the election petition case whose outcome favoured the two.
Chilima and Chakwera had successfully convinced the courts, through their lawyers and witnesses, that the May 21, 2019 presidential election was marred by systematic and widespread irregularities, among others, and that it should therefore be annulled.
The Supreme Court of Appeal, where Mec and then-president Peter Mutharika had further taken the matter to, directed that the electoral body should pay the two the costs of the case.
In an assessment by Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Agnes Patemba, Chilima and Chakwera were awarded a cumulative total of slightly over K7 billion from both the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court cases.
The assessment was received with mixed reactions with some quarters agreeing that the case was too involving and intricate and that it required a lot of research for the parties in it to convince the courts while others argued that still the bill was on the higher side in terms of calculations of hours that the whole case had taken.
And Mec Director of Legal Affairs David Matumika Banda has said the electoral body feels that the amount is not a true reflection of costs that were reasonably incurred by the petitioners.
Banda then said the commission will be lodging an application with the court in that regard.
“The commission held a meeting and resolved to have the two rulings dated 10th August 2020 and the Order of Costs dated 12th August 2020 reviewed. We will therefore be lodging an application with the court,” he said.
After Chakwera and Chilima challenged the results of the May 21, 2019 presidential election, a panel of five High Court judges that heard the case as a constitutional referral nullified the election on February 3 this year and ordered a fresh poll within 150 days.
The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the judgement and ordered Parliament to set a date for the fresh election which was eventually held on June 23 where the pair emerged victorious.
Last week, the Malawi Law Society, which was one of the friends of the court in the election case, said the court “could have done better for the general public to appreciate” the K7 billion bill.
Youth activist Charles Kajoloweka also challenged Mec to tell Malawians how much the electoral body would eventually cough out if payments made to other parties which worked on its behalf were taken into consideration.