UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima’s witness Miriam Gwalidi yesterday completed her testimony on disputed presidential elections which her party argues were marked by serious irregularities.
She was re-examined by Chilima’s lawyers during which she used graphic evidence projected on a screen projector to narrate that presidential election results were altered, mostly using correction fluid Tippex as well as pens.
Gwalidi reiterated that she personally found MEC officials altering the evidence and also demonstrated to the court how other result sheets from polling centres used fake results sheets, or results sheets not signed by party monitors.
On the final day of her testimony, lawyer Bright Theu, who at times was accused of asking leading questions by first and second respondents Peter Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) lawyers–cited several polling centres where malpractices allegedly happened.
Gwalidi cited Lauderdale School as a polling centre where Tippex was used on changes to streams, ballots which were not used, on cancelled or spoiled votes and null and void votes.
In some displayed forms, the figures of the same results were different to those captured in words.
But Mutharika and MEC lawyers still insisted her evidence was mostly hearsay; hence, she could not say whether the alteration were because of malice or genuine mistakes as she did not witness the vote count and tallying at polling centres.
Speaking on behalf of Chilima’s lawyers, Chikosa Silungwe said through Gwalidi’s testimony several irregularities had been established.
He said: “We have established that no originals were used in these elections, duplicates were used in these elections, fake sheets were used in the elections; tippexed sheets were used, in a number of cases no log books were used, presiding officers and assistant presiding officers signed results,
“We are all agreed there. The difference that is arising is arising this way: the lawyers for Professor Mutharika and MEC are eloquently saying that despite that no originals were used, despite that fake sheets were used, despite that tippexed sheets were used, despite that duplicates were used, that should not matter as long as a valid vote count was not affected. We admire their eloquence but the point is this, it should actually matter.”
Silungwe said from Chilima’s testimony, the first petitioner’s team has demonstrated that as stipulated under the law, irregularities are defined as non-compliance with the law and all evidence has been pointing to this narrative.
But in an interview, Mutharika’s lawyer Frank Mbeta said Gwalidi was not able to convincingly explain how some irregularities on certain documents had altered results of the elections.
“When you talk about irregularities you must look at the effect that alleged irregularities has on the outcome. Gwalidi was bringing only one set out of documents, other documents were available. In our view, Gwalidi has failed to demonstrate that the alleged irregularities had any effect on the results of the elections,” he said.
Just before the court adjourned upon completion of Gwalidi’s testimony, Silungwe told the court that as the third witness Darlington Ndasauka will take the witness box on Friday (today) only lawyers for Mutharika will ask him questions as MEC lawyers have indicated that they will not ask questions any witnesses the first petitioner, Chilima.
Silungwe told the court this was informed by the checklist of witnesses MEC has provided to the court as it had directed earlier on and the move seemed to have taken MEC lawyers by surprise.
The MEC lawyers, led by the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, suggested that they might have submitted a second checklist which may not have been served to the other legal teams but Silungwe specified the date which the checklist was filed—which happened to be the deadline stipulated by the court.
The development prompted the AG to plea with the court to shelve the matter for this morning. The court adjourned the matter and is due to rule this morning on whether MEC will be allowed to cross-examine the witness.