Barely two weeks after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over irregularities, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has petitioned the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate the five judges who presided over the case.
In its 10-point petition presented through Blantyre City Council chief executive officer Alfred Chanza yesterday, but read out by former Cabinet minister Henry Mussa at the end of a DPP supporters’ march, the governing party alleges that the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court was bribed to rule in favour of the petitioners in the presidential election nullification case.
Reads the petition in part: “DPP is also worried about allegations that some judges of the Constitutional Court received bribes and were involved in corrupt dealings in order to bend the judgement in favour of the petitioners. We are ready and willing to furnish information and also to testify on such malpractice.
“Therefore, we call for an investigation for the five judges to be probed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau on the bribery allegations.”
In the petition, DPP—which was not a party in the case but its leader President Peter Mutharika was the first respondent by virtue of being the declared winner of the annulled election—also demands a probe into alleged family relations between Judge Dingiswayo Madise and the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima who was the first petitioner as presidential candidate of UTM Party.
Reading the petition, Mussa alleged that the panel of judges that comprised Madise, Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu, Ivy Kamanga and Mike Tembo is either a sympathiser of opposition politicians or it worked and succumbed to pressure from demonstrations against the management of the elections organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
Further, DPP claims that the Constitutional Court demonstrated “high-levels of hypocrisy” by nullifying the presidential election results despite allegedly rejecting key petitions made by Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera (second petitioner) that DPP was intimidating polling staff and monitors.
In the case, Chilima and Chakwera asked the court to nullify presidential election results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system. Mutharika was the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as the second respondent.
The court found that the election was marred by irregularities warranting nullification as the electoral body incompetently managed the elections, especially in the management of the presidential election results.
The 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.
While DPP is alleging bribery of judges in the case, in January this year ACB arrested and charged business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira for allegedly attempting to offer bribes to the same judges purportedly to influence the outcome in favour of Mutharika.
While presenting their petition, DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey asked Chanza to deliver the petition to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda as soon as possible.
In response, Chanza, who personally received the petition clad in a blue suit, but previously delegated the same task when HRDC petitioned MEC and the President, assured DPP supporters he would deliver the petition to Nyirenda by close of business yesterday.
En route to presenting their petition to BCC at the Civic Centre, hundreds of DPP supporters predominantly dressed in the party’s blue colour, peacefully marched through Victoria Avenue and Glyn Jones Road in the central business district before joining the Masauko Chipembere Highway.
Led by DPP regional governor (South) Charles Mchacha, the marchers started their trek from the party’s regional office in Sunnyside.
Besides Mchacha, Mussa and Jeffrey, senior DPP officials, including presidential adviser on political affairs Francis Mphepo and Roads Authority board chairperson Brown Mpinganjira took part in the march.
During the march, the DPP supporters carried well-prepared placards whose messages hailed MEC chairperson Jane Ansah while attacking the judges and others such as MEC commissioner Mary Nkosi, who told a parliamentary inquiry last week that she had misgivings about some decisions the electoral body made.
Some of the placards read ‘MEC commissioner Nkosi a traitor’, ‘MEC chair commissioner Dr Jane Ansah very educated judge’ and ‘DPP wants justice mulandu unayenda mwachinyengo’.
In an interview after receiving the petition, Chanza, whose council has previously fought with HRDC for permission to parade, said DPP sought permission last week to hold the demonstration.
During the march, traffic ground to a halt, especially along the Masauko Chipembere Highway and its feeder roads. Traffic police officers were posted at some key junctions to control flow and ease congestion.
Mutharika and MEC have indicated their intention to appeal against the judgement in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.
However, last Wednesday the Constitutional Court dismissed the two’s application to suspend enforcement of the order that reverted the country’s presidency—comprising the President and Vice-President—to the pre-May elections status of Mutharika as President and Chilima as Vice-President.
Three days after the February 3 unanimous judgement of the five-judge panel, Mutharika branded the Constitutional
Court’s decision as “a threat to democracy and an attempt to usurp the will of the people”. In his special address aired on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, he said he considered the judgement a “serious subversion of justice, an attack on the country’s democratic system and an attempt to undermine the will of people”.