The High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court has granted Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) its wish to make an elections data simulation presentation in the ongoing presidential elections nullification petition hearing.
Delivering the court’s verdict, Judge Healey Potani said the five-judge panel weighed arguments from both parties and found it necessary to grant MEC its wish to simulate data.
He said the move will give both petitioners and respondents a fair opportunity to demonstrate how results were managed in the system.
But Potani, who is co-hearing the case with judges Ivy Kamanga, Redson Kapindu, Mike Tembo and Dingiswayo Madise, said MEC information and communications technology (ICT) director Muhabi Chisi’s simulation should not be for purposes of traversing the evidence [Daud] Suleman [the sixth witness for the second petitioner] presented.
Said the judge: “We came to the conclusion with the affirmation that the witness’ evidence would not be compromised. We ultimately believe that both parties should be given the opportunity to use the same system to eliminate any doubt.”
MEC’s application followed a simulation exercise by information technology expert (IT)Suleman, who is the sixth witness for second petitioner and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, which portrayed that the electoral body’s Result Management System (RMS) was compromised and accessed by ‘ghost’ administrators.
Through its legal team led by Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, MEC asked the court to allow Chisi to simulate the electoral body’s data. The move is an apparent reaction to Suleman’s presentation.
Chakwera’s lawyers had objected to the MEC application, saying doing so would mean giving Chisi an opportunity to respond to the evidence Suleman presented. Further, the second petitioner’s lawyers argued that the exercise was outside the sworn statements.
Proceedings in the court were adjourned before 4pm yesterday after Kaphale and MEC lawyer Tamando Chokotho finished cross-examining Suleman on a number of issues bordering on the management of elections results.
In his line of questioning, Chokotho spent time trying to prove to the court that Suleman was not a certified IT expert and that he was not affiliated to the IT professional body dubbed Microsoft.
Today, Frank Mbeta, lawyer for President Peter Mutharika who is the first respondent, will start cross-examining Suleman.
In the case, Chakwera alongside first petitioner and UTM Party president Saulos Chilima are seeking nullification of the presidential election results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and an order for a rerun. The court earlier projected that it would conclude hearing the case by December 6 and that the judges would deliver their verdict within 45 days from the date.