The High Court has vacated an order it granted to Patrick Bandawe, a Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary aspirant in Dedza East Constituency, stopping the party from declaring incumbent legislator Juliana Lunguzi as its torchbearer.
Effectively, the order granted by judge Kenyatta Nyirenda yesterday sustains the declaration that Lunguzi was the winner of the contentious November primary elections.
In his ruling, Nyirenda faulted Bandawe for not moving the courts while the deadline for submission of nomination papers by aspirants in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections to Malawi Electoral Commission is barely one week away.
Said the judge: “In my view, the only reasonable explanation for the claimant’s [Bandawe] lack of interest in prosecuting the main action is that the action was not brought bona fide, but for some other ulterior or collateral purpose.”
Bandawe was initially declared winner of the constituency’s November 25 primary electionst before MCP national executive committee said Lunguzi was the legitimate winner.
Discontented with the decision of the party, Bandawe, who lost to Lunguzi in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections where he contested on the ticket of the then governing People’s Party (PP), obtained the court order on January 7 this year.
In an interview yesterday, lawyer representing Bandawe, Innocent Kubwalo, said he was surprised by the court’s decision because summons were filed alongside the application for the injunction on November 28 2018. He said the registrar was yet to sign them.
The lawyer said he has since filed an application to have the injunction restored.
The High Court has also thrown out an application for an injunction which incumbent parliamentarian for Lilongwe Msozi South Vitus Dzoole Mwale sought to restrain MCP from declaring Liana Kakhobwe as winner of primary elections in the constituency.
Judge Nyirenda observed that the claimant had taken 41 days before going to court to start the actual case against MCP.
Said the judge: “In the present case, allowing further prosecution of the action would be prejudicial not only to the interest of the defendant [MCP], but it would also be detrimental to good administration of justice.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali described the court order as a relief. He said the party was stressed up with the approaching deadline for submission of nomination papers.
He said: “We are relieved now to move on with our campaign. Our message is that when there are issues in the party, we must learn to trust party structures to handle them than rushing to the courts.”
MCP’s primary elections were marred by protests from losing candidates some of whom are incumbent legislators.
Other parties, namely governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and newly formed UTM Party also faced hitches in their primaries. Some of the controversies relating to identification of parliamentary candidates are yet to be resolved. n