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Vuwa Kaunda goes to African court

Legal expert questions court’s jurisdiction

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Chikosa Silungwe

The battle for Nkhata Bay Central Constituency seat has taken a new twist after Symon Vuwa Kaunda, who until recently was parliamentarian for the area, has gone to the African Court on Human Rights and People’s Rights (ACHRPR) in Tanzania to seek a review of the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgement.

The judgement nullified his position as legislator and ordered by-elections, which the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has set for June 29.

Speaking at a rally in preparation for this month’s by-election, Vuwa Kaunda maintained that he won the 2019 parliamentary election.

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He said the State has 14 days to respond to the ACHRPR summons.

“What we want is for the African Court on Human Rights and People’s Rights to compel Mec to produce the original documents because what I know is that I won the elections,” he said.

According to the Arusha-based court’s records, the application, Number 013/2021, was filed by Vuwa Kaunda and five other people on May 5 2021.

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Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe said they were reviewing the law for them to ably respond.

Chikosa clarified that it is not essentially 14 days as being peddled by Vuwa Kaunda.

“There are three timelines. There are 10 days to respond on whether we will contest, 16 days and 90 days for the case to start. But we have been served and, at the moment, we are reviewing the law for us to prepare for a response,” he said.

Mec Director of Media and Public Relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said preparations for the by-election were going as planned, adding that they were yet to be served with the summons.

Meanwhile, Dean for the Faculty of Law at the Catholic University of Malawi John Gift Mwakhwawa has said the Supreme Court of Malawi is the final authority in Malawi, adding that, to that effect, its judgement cannot be overturned.

“I don’t think the court from where he has applied has any jurisdiction to act as an appeal court above Malawi’s appeal court. My take is that the court where he has made his application may either find itself without jurisdiction to hear his case, depending on how he has framed the case, but, again, the court cannot have the power to overturn the judgement,” he said.

Initially, the case was commenced by Vuwa Kaunda’s rival Ralph Mhone of the People Party in the High Court, where he contested the May 21 2019 parliamentary election results citing irregularities.

Mhone lost the case and appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which nullified results of the parliamentary election.

The difference between Mhone and Vuwa Kaunda’s votes was eight, making the seat in the constituency one of the hotly contested ones.

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