One more parliamentary seat has fallen vacant after the Supreme Court of Appeal Wednesday nullified the 2019 election of Symon Vuwa Kaunda who had been declared winner in Nkhata Bay Central Constituency.
Kaunda’s election was initially sustained by the High Court in September 2019 after his fellow contestant Ralph Mhone had petitioned the court, asking it to declare that he was not duly elected.
Mhone successfully appealed to the Supreme Court which Wednesday overturned the High Court’s verdict and went ahead to annul the election.
This is the seventh parliamentary election nullification since Malawians voted in 2019.
A panel of seven Supreme Court judges who heard Mhone’s appeal found that the High Court’s decision to dismiss the petition was against the weight of evidence presented.
Reads the judgement in part: “It is our judgement that the appeal succeeds. There shall be a fresh election in accordance with section 100(4) of the [Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act].
“…It is our view that a successful petition restores the people’s right to choose their representative in a free, fair and credible election. We order that each party should bear its own costs, here and below.”
In the 11-page judgement, which we have seen, the Supreme Court further acknowledges that the High Court case it was reviewing was decided before the appeal court’s decision in the presidential election case which put the law on election in its proper perspective.
The appeal judges also faulted the High Court’s verdict in the latest case in several ways including that the presiding judge had erroneously presented himself as a handwriting expert and that “this was most irregular and dangerous”.
Kaunda yesterday declined to comment on the matter while Mhone was not immediately available to comment on the outcome of his appeal.
Malawi Electoral Commission spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa refused to comment on the judgement, saying: “There will be official communication from the commission regarding all recent developments.”
Other constituencies where election results were nullified include Mangochi West, Mangochi East, Phalombe North, Chikwawa East, Nsanje Central and Nsanje North.