Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Bright Msaka has cautioned candidates who challenge electoral results, saying the act could minimise their chances of winning future elections.
Speaking yesterday at the official opening of the 21st Annual Electoral Commissions Forum for the Southern African Development Community (ECF Sadc) conference in Blantyre, the minister warned that people who take electoral issues to court may lose the support of the people.
Said Msaka: “This, I believe, is a passing phase. Our region is rapidly changing. A time will soon come when it will no longer be fashionable to challenge clear and obvious election results.
“A time is soon coming when challenging clear and obvious results will be the recipe for losing voter confidence. A time is soon coming when challenging clear and obvious results will be the surest way to lose the next election.
“A time is soon coming when the voters will expect candidates to respect the voters’ verdict more than the verdict of any other entity.”
Ironically, the minister’s remarks come at a time the country is witnessing a series of electoral results related litigation where some candidates are challenging results of the last elections in court.
Currently, there are 28 pending petitions across the four registries of the High Court of Malawi challenging parliamentary and local government elections results of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The number was reduced to 28 after 16 cases were completed from the initial list of 44 filed in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
A panel of five High Court of Malawi judges sitting as the Constitutional Court is currently hearing a landmark presidential results case where UTM leader Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court for the nullification of the presidential results.
But Msaka’s remarks were faulted by Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafik Hajat who, in an interview yesterday, said the minister’s remarks were not only misleading but destructive.
“In my view, the minister is trying to address the current view, but unfortunately from a very myopic perspective. I am actually surprised that this is coming from a minister let alone, of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
“The courts provide an opportunity for justice to be administered where concerns in this case on electoral issues are raised. The fact is the country does not have laws that give enough time for people to present their genuine concerns before swearing of winning candidates. That problem is manifested in the number of complaints registered in an election,” he said.
During the results management process after the May 21 polls, Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah announced that the electoral body had registered 147 complaints from various candidates.