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No pay yet for Chakwera, Chilima legal cost

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President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima are yet to get K4 billion in legal fees from the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) following their victory in the presidential election case this year.

The court ordered Mec, which was the second respondent in the case, to pay lawyers for the petitioners in excess of K7 billion but the amount was reduced, on review, to around K4 billion.

One of the petitioners’ lawyers Khumbo Soko said they were just waiting for payment as ordered by the courts.

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“For us, we are just waiting to be paid. As to when, what are they doing, you can check with the respondents,” he said.

Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa referred The Daily Times to the Treasury, saying payment would be made from the Treasury to the lawyers.

“The commission agreed with Treasury on payment of these legal costs. The Treasury will pay direct to the lawyers. I would advise that you follow up with the Treasury regarding updates on the payment,” Mwafulirwa said.

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Treasury spokesperson Williams Banda also declined to comment on the matter, saying, since the payment was emanating from the courts, the Office of the Attorney General would be better placed to speak on the issue.

Masanjala could however not comment on the timeframe and steps being taken to facilitate the payment when pressed.

“[If you are talking about] anything coming from the courts, it is the office of the Attorney General which speaks. We will get direction from the office of the Attorney General and that is what will happen,” he said.

Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe declined to comment on the issue, saying he was conflicted as he was part of Chilima’s legal team.

“I am conflicted. I can’t comment,” Silungwe said.

However, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala said the court order would be complied with.

“The court already made a decision on the matter; so, there isn’t much to comment on. Remember these are the party-and-party costs, not solicitor-client costs. So the court decided that the lawyers for the petitioners should be paid by the respondents for the party and [pay] party costs. The Respondents will have to sort themselves on issues doing with their lawyers,” he said.

Chakwera and Chilima challenged the May 21 2019 presidential election result, a case the two won against Mec and former president Peter Mutharika.

On top of nullifying the election, the courts ordered Mec to settle all the legal bills which the petitioners incurred in the course of seeking justice from the courts.

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