President Peter Mutharika has once against lamented the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal to uphold the Constituttional Court nullification of the May 21 2019 presidential election result, saying it is “not only a traverse of justice and ridiculous, but has also made Malawi a laughing stock on the international scene”.
Mutharika said this on Friday during a ‘Talk to the President’ special programme on State-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio and TV.
But legal and governance experts have faulted Mutharika for attacking the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), saying the judgements were an intellectual tour de force, and that he must simply focus on taking Malawians to the fresh polls, and not attacking the judiciary.
A law professor himself, Mutharika argued that the judiciary simply wants to get rid of his government, as they allegedly “failed to follow the evidence, law, and all factors in the case”.
Charged Mutharika: “As I said after the ConCourt ruling, it was a traverse of justice; the court did not follow the evidence and the law, and that to me it was a judicial coup de tat. That’s what it was that the court simply decided that they want to get rid of the government, it’s so obvious, it’s very clear.”
As an example, Mutharika said, the court found that the election was not rigged, and that irregularities did not affect the outcome of the poll, but still nullified the election.
Mutharika said: “They have set there is an election, whenever there is an irregularity, no matter how minor it is, that election will be nullified.a standard that in future whenever
“That is very sad, I hoped that the Supreme Court will look at the interests of this country, the future of this country and set up jurisprudence for managing elections. Unfortunately, they failed this country. They really did, and I feel sorry for the future of democracy and the future of this country.”
But in an interview yesterday, private practice lawyer John-Gift Mwakhwawa, reminded Mutharika that the powers he has are bestowed on him by law, and that he is supposed to lead by compliance of observance of the law, and respect for the judiciary.
Said Mwakhwawa: “For him to demean the judiciary, in their interpretation of the law, and adjudication of the elections matter, he is actually inviting the citizens to demean his very office, because his office is also founded by law.”
One of the lawyers for UTM in the presidential elections case, Khombo Bonzoe Soko, also took to Facebook, reminding Mutharika that the world is actually is in awe of the country and its judiciary.
Said Soko: “The world is in awe of us. That we have men and women in the judiciary of remarkable integrity and spine. Who delivered justice according to law and conscience despite attempts by people allied with you to bribe them.
“Their judgements were an intellectual tour de force. Compelling and exhaustive in their analysis of the evidence and application of the relevant law.”
On his part, governance expert Makhumbo Munthali, said Mutharika’s remarks are unfortunate, and unexpected of a President who vowed to defend the Constitution and respect rule of law.
“Instead of attacking the Judiciary, he should have been working towards implementing the Court decisions,” he said.
While declining to comment on the matter, High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal Registrar Agnes Patemba said they speak through their judgements.
Mutharika, who was declared winner of the disputed election, faces an uphill task to win the fresh election after Malawi, UTM and seven other parties have formed Tonse Alliance while DPP has teamed up with the United Democratic Front.