- Claims he beat APM by 82 000 votes
- Says irregularities affected 1.5 million votes
Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera claims he won the presidential race, after beating President Peter Mutharika by 82 212 votes.
Chakwera, who came second in the presidential race, claims through one of his key witnesses, Peter Lackson, that he polled 1 955 901 votes against Mutharika’s 1 873 689, according to the party’s parallel national tally centre.
Chakwera’s witness, whose sworn statement is on Constitutional Court record, says they established a computer-based results management platform, which was designed to collect results throughout the country using software which would upload the results directly into their system in conjunction with phone calls and hand delivered results of Form 66C.
Lackson, who will testify for Chakwera after the first petitioner Saulos Chilima and his witnesses as the case progresses, places the UTM presidential hopeful, Chilima, on third position, with 1 012 114 votes, according to their tabulation.
The witness claims the irregularities affected more than 1 520 427 votes cast, which he says is 30 percent of the total vote cast.
“Based on the magnitude of the votes affected by the irregularities, there is material evidence that the determination of presidential elections is neither credible nor done in accordance with the established procedures set out under the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA),” Lackson claims.
Lackson’s sworn statement is among several that Chakwera has filed in the matter.
But, according to results released by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), second respondent in the case that resumes on September 3, after recess—Mutharika, who is the first respondent in the case, won the race by 1 940 709 votes, trailed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes—a difference of 158 969 votes.
The electoral body placed Chilima on third position, with 1 018 369 votes—a margin of 6 225 lower votes going by what MCP is claiming in court using their parallel national tally centre.
But the witness says his sworn statements and those of his fellow witnesses for MCP would amplify and explain the various irregularities which marred the presidential elections across the country.
Lackson claims in his statement that some presiding officers refused to give them copies of Form 66C as required by law and MEC’s procedures and this made it difficult for them to keep track of the presidential results for comparison.
“In many instances where the monitors were refused a copy of Form 66C, they recorded transmitted the said results to our parallel national tally centre through the roving monitors,” he claims.the results in notebooks and
Lackson, who has referred to a number of exhibits he wishes to tender in court, says his team managed to feed their system to about 90 percent of the results due to challenges to access the results.
The witness explains that, among other processes, they checked whether the sourced documents used by MEC were authentic, unaltered, mathematically accurate and approved results sheets in accordance with the law and approved procedures, claiming this is where they found irregularities.
Lackson says due to time constraints, his team carried out an audit on a sample basis covering randomly chosen result sheets from 624 polling centres across the country.
The witness claims that MEC also used duplicates of Form 66C in tabulating the national presidential results, instead of the originals as required by the law and its own internal procedure.
“On a sample basis, we looked at over 523 from 13 districts, covering over 73 constituencies, which affected over 1 129 684 votes across the country,” he says in his sworn statement.
The witness says his team downloaded 3 062 tally sheets from MEC website and physically checked them and found that 176 duplicates of Form 66C used by the electoral body were altered through the use of Tippex, affecting over 207 600 votes of the total votes cast.
“We also discovered that 225 results sheets had the sum of total presidential scores (valid votes) and null and void votes less than the total ballots actually cast, which means that a total of 22 424 votes were not counted or a particular presidential candidate had his votes reduced.
Lackson, who takes to the witness stand as the case progresses, says it was found that 32 tally sheets, representing 5 175 votes, the total number cancelled/spoilt exceed the number of ballot papers provided by MEC, meaning that some people brought ballot papers from unknown sources, thereby inflating the figures. of ballots cast, plus unused,
He goes on to say that Chakwera has good cause to seek an order to nullifying the declaration of Mutharika as duly elected in view of the grave and gross irregularities surrounding the recording, tallying and reconciliation of the national poll.
Chakwera, in his 13-paged election petition on court record, is also asking the court to nullify the results of the May 21 Presidential Election as he claims it was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution.
The MCP presidential hopeful is also asking the Constitutional Court to direct MEC to organise and conduct a fresh Presidential Election in strict conformity with the Constitution and PPEA.
Chakwera claims, in his sworn statement, that MEC accepted the use of results tally sheets defaced with Tippex as a record for the polled votes, in place of original results tally sheets with no Tippex on them, without any plausible justification.
“[And] further to the above enumerated irregularities; the conduct of MEC in managing the elections was utterly unjust and unconscionable.
“MEC proceeded to announce the results without conducting a thorough audit and verification of the results and in disregard of the several complaints lodged by the petitioner through MCP,” Chakwera complains.
He further claims that the electoral body had been negligent in its control and administration of the elections by failing to ensure that the relay of results from the polling stations was secure, accountable, accurate and verifiable.
The case proceedings in Lilongwe, being heard by a five-judge panel chaired by Healey Potani, ran for 11 days non-stop before it went into a week’s recess, and the case resumes on September 3.
One witness for Chilima, Miriam Gwalidi, remains in the witness stand as she is still being cross-examined by Mutharika’s lawyers.