The High Court in Blantyre has dismissed an application for an injunction by rejected presidential aspirant Ras Chikomeni David Chirwa to push Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to revise presidential nomination fees and extend the deadline for nomination papers’ submission.
Chikomeni sought court redress after MEC on February 6 rejected his nomination for failing to comply with requirements, including payment of a presidential nomination fee of K2 million and getting 10 signatures in each of the country’s 28 districts. He only managed signatories from nine districts.
But in his judgement yesterday, High Court Judge Jack N’riva dismissed Chikomeni’s application on the basis that entertaining it would disrupt the whole electoral calendar and inconvenience electoral stakeholders.
The judge also pointed out that requirements such as nomination fees and soliciting signatures have always been there.
But N’riva referred to the Chief Justice the substantive issue relating to collection of signatures, saying it was a constitutional matter to be heard by a panel of three judges.
In an interview after the ruling, lawyer representing Chikomeni, Chikondi Chijozi said they would appeal in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
She said: “We will consult with our client, but we are considering appealing the decision by the High Court to the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
In a separate interview, director of legal services at MEC, David Banda, welcomed the ruling saying if the injunction was granted, it could have disrupted the electoral calendar.
He, however, said MEC was looking forward to the Constitutional Court decision on the issue of signatures.
On his part, Chikomeni told the press soon after the ruling that he will “fight to the end”.
In their submissions before the court last Monday, lawyers representing Chikomeni—Chijozi, Mawuya Msuku and Oscar Taulo, argued that MEC should review the nomination fee because it is exorbitant and infringes on their client’s right to participate in the electoral process.
But Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale, who represented MEC alongside Banda, said Chikomeni had ample time to mobilise the signatures from the time MEC prescribed their conditions in July last year.
The AG also observed that some independent candidates fulfilled the requirements despite having no political party structures; hence, Chikomeni had no basis to argue that it is an uphill task for an independent candidate to organise the same.