Source: Malawi election ruling evidence-based: Lawyers | The Herald February 5, 2020
Joseph Madzimure, Senior Reporter
THE ruling by the Constitutional Court of Malawi, which ordered fresh Presidential polls in 150 days after establishing large-scale vote manipulation, cannot be likened to the Zimbabwean scenario as the local opposition failed to provide clear evidence of rigging, analysts have said.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Transformation Movement (UTM) had petitioned the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for declaring the incumbent President Peter Arthur Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as the winner with 38,57 percent of the vote.
MCP leader Mr Lazarus Chakwera garnered 35,41 percent while former Vice President Saulos Chilima of UTM got 20,24 percent of the votes.
Human rights lawyer Mr David Tinashe Hofisi said the Zimbabwe court case was not similar to the Malawian one, which is subject to appeal whereas the Harare case was final.
Further, the Malawi appeal was an eight months full trial whereas Zimbabwe’s process ran for 14 days.
Harare lawyer Mr Obert Gutu said the court verdict in Malawi proved that a well packaged and presented election petition has chances of success.
“The law is precise and common sensical. The law doesn’t operate on vapid and rabid politically-charged bold allegations of rigging and any other form of electoral malfeasances,” he said.
Mr Gutu said in Malawi, the petitioners were able to demonstrate that figures had been altered using Tippex, among other irregularities.
“On the other hand, the petitioner MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa in the Zimbabwe Presidential election petition of 2018, dismally and horribly failed to present any compelling evidence of vote manipulation. The petitioner even called a Press conference at a Harare hotel and boastfully showed what he claimed to be V11 forms that would prove that he had 2,6 million votes in his favour.
“However, that turned out to be an insipid blue lie because the so-called V11 forms were actually not physically there to confirm, by way of a simple arithmetical process, that, indeed, he had 2,6 million votes in his favour,” he said.
The MDC-A also failed to request a vote recount within the time frame allowed by the Electoral Act. Mr Gutu urged Malawians to remain calm ahead of the Presidential rerun.
Constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku also said the decision by the Constitutional Court of Malawi was not final and could be challenged because in Malawi, the High Court is the Constitutional Court while the highest court is the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“Any of the parties aggrieved by the judgment may appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal. If that happens, we will have to wait for the final decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal. The judgment may become final if no appeal is lodged.”
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) lawyer Mr Tawanda Kanengoni, who put an impressive argument at the Constitutional Court against the allegations made by Mr Chamisa, said he was not following the events in Malawi closely and will comment on the judgment once he has familiarised with the case.
Prior to the handing down of the judgment, President Mnangagwa, who is Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, urged all stakeholders in Malawi to respect the outcome of the ruling.
The Malawi concourt took about 10 hours to hand down the judgment.
The 500-page ruling cited the widespread use of unauthorised correctional fluid, Tippex, to alter figures; the use of duplicate result sheets and unsigned results forms, as cases that compromised the outcome of the elections.
Malawian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Annie Kumwenda said the outcome of the challenge was testimony to the independence of the judiciary in her country.
“The outcome is a sign of a democratic growth and independence of our judiciary system. We are appealing to Malawians to embrace peace, unity and love during the campaigning period for the presidential election rerun.
“We are calling for high level of discipline during the process. We may differ on our political allegiance, but we remain Malawians. We need to safeguard the interest of future generations to come. We need to campaign with freedom of association,” said Ambassador Kumwenda.
Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings commended the Malawian judiciary.
Mr Rawlings claimed that about US$20 million was offered to the judges “but they refused and decided to uphold the rule of law”.