Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera’s lawyers yesterday blocked Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale from using a document not filed with the court to cross-examine the second petitioner’s third witness.
When the High Court of Malawi sitting as a Constitutional Court resumed hearing a petition to nullify presidential election results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, Kaphale presented a result sheet document for Rumphi Magistrate’s Court polling station as a reference material.
The AG wanted to use the new document in addition to the filed documents for cross-examining Chakwera’s third witness Peter Lackson Chimangeni.
However, Kaphale could not use the new document as Modecai Msisha, a member of Chakwera’s legal team, questioned the rationale of using documents not filed with the courts. He said that was not acceptable.
But Kaphale counter-argued that using an additional document for reference not filed as reference was permissible. However, Msisha dismissed this, saying the document would confuse the witness because it was not referenced in the file for him to prepare in advance.
Said Msisha: “Using the document that is not in court for cross-examination is not allowed. If the court has to allow strange documents, it can ambush the witness. Even if the documents are not disputed, the court should still say it is not in the sworn statement.
“In any event, the whole idea about the rules of procedure that are in place now is to give maximum disclosure of what each party’s case is.”
Kaphale then told the court he had no objection to Msisha’s submission, a move that saw the five-judge panel hearing the case asking the AG to proceed with cross-examination.
The AG completed cross-examining Chimangeni on a number of issues, some of which bordered on the duplicate result sheets that had some discrepancies as well as purported ballot papers believed to have been printed by a local firm.
During the cross-examination, it was revealed that there were irregularities in a number of centres such as Livingstonia polling centre in Rumphi where Chakwera had his votes deducted by 98.
At Chitipa Community Hall, results for the first respondent President Peter Mutharika were less by 20 votes, a development which made Kaphale to admit in an interview outside the court that there were “minor” irregularities.
Today, Mutharika’s lawyer Frank Mbeta will cross-examine Chimangeni for two and a half days as scheduled by the court. Chakwera and first petitioner Saulos Chilima of UTM Party are seeking nullification of the presidential election results over alleged irregularities.