Court snubs Mutharika lawyer, adjourns to Friday

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday rebuffed a notice by lawyer representing President Peter Mutharika to use a Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) checklist of electoral materials in cross-examination.

The court, which is hearing a petition seeking nullification of presidential election results, has since adjourned proceedings to Friday this week.

It advised Frank Mbeta, lawyer representing Mutharika as the first respondent, to make a formal application to use the MEC checklist.

The court’s position followed its ruling on September 25 that documents would be accepted in the case by way of application and not through notices.

Mbeta told the court he would make a formal application to allow him use the document and should he succeed, Richard Chapweteka, witness for the second petitioner and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, would be recalled for cross-examination.

When proceedings commenced on Wednesday, Mbeta hinted that he wanted to refer to MEC’s checklist of materials printed and brought into Malawi from Dubai which Chapweteka had referred to during earlier cross-examination.

But Modecai Msisha, one of the lawyers representing Chakwera, objected to the request, saying Mbeta could not be allowed to use it.

To which, Mbeta and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) lead lawyer Tamando Chokotho counter-argued and made reference to various pieces of law on how the court should allow them to use the checklist.

Msisha stood his ground, stressing it was the court’s order that documents should be introduced by way of application and not notices.

He also accused MEC of appearing to discuss a lot of issues with the first respondent’s lawyers, saying the electoral body was supposed to be independent.

When Msisha closed re-examination of Chapweteka, the court expected him to proceed with an application to allow other witnesses for Chakwera, namely Peter Lackson and Anthony Bendulo, to make some changes in their sworn statements. But Msisha said he needed to reorganise the sworn statements.

The court was not amused with Msisha’s request, with Judge Ivy Kamanga saying that would affect progress of the case and Judge Redson Kapindu urging Msisha and his team to be diligent as these were their own documents