The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed applications by Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Women Lawyers Association (WLA) to join the presidential elections appeal case as friends of court.
The court dismissed both applications yesterday in the Lilongwe District Registry where the country’s highest court was hearing three classes of applications.
The other applications were for media houses to broadcast live the presidential appeal case proceedings, and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and President Peter Mutharika to amend notice of appeal and the ground of the appeal.
A seven-judge panel comprising Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda (chair), and justices Edward Twea, Rezine Mzikamanda, Anaclet Chipeta, Lovemore Chikopa, Frank Kapanga and Anthony Kamanga dismissed MLS and WLA applications, arguing that both law bodies did not indicate the role they wanted to play in the case.
But the court allowed media houses like Times Group, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Malawi Institute of Journalism to broadcast live court proceedings only on radio and not television.
The court has also granted Mutharika and MEC’s request to amend the notice and grounds of their appeal.
In an interview after the proceedings, one of the lawyers representing Saulos Chilima, Khumbo Soko, who attended the hearing, confirmed that the court dismissed both MLS and WLA applications.
He said: “According to the court, the applications were dismissed on the basis that they had not indicated what position they will take.”
In a separate interview, one of the lawyers representing Mutharika, Frank Mbeta, confirmed that the court accepted their request.
He said they applied for streamlining their argument of the appeal of the Constitutional Court judgement that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election.
Said Mbeta: “The court has allowed us to streamline the issues that we want the court to deal with in the appeal. Tomorrow, we will be filing and serving the amendment.”
He said the amendments were already done, but what they were doing was just a formality because they needed to have permission.
A five-judge panel comprising Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise on February 3 2020 nullified the May 2019 presidential election and directed that a fresh election be held within 150 days from that date.
The High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court said MEC failed in all constitutional tests it set out on the elections and that the irregularities were so glaring that the credibility of the election was in question.
But Mutharika and MEC, the first and second responde, respectively, filed their appeals to the Supreme Court, which is expected to start the hearing on April 15.
Two of the presidential candidates in the May 2019 elections, UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima (first petitioner) and Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, asked the court to nullify presidential poll results over alleged irregularities.