Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera has made a notification to the High Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court in Lilongwe, to have President Peter Mutharika appear and answer questions in the historic presidential election case.
Titus Mvalo, one of the lawyers in Chakwera’s legal team, disclosed in an interview on Saturday that Mutharika, as a first respondent, was included on the list of people to the court to answer questions.
“It was a requirement that we needed to put this list and submitted it to the court, as a notification.
“If we did not do this, we could not have been allowed to have him in court, so yes, he is compelled to appear, we have questions for him,” Mvalo said.
The lawyer disclosed that MCP leader, who is disputing presidential results of the May 21 Tripartite Elections on allegations that they were married by fraud and irregularities, has between 15 to 20 witnesses in the case.
Lead lawyer for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Tamando Chokotho said in an interview on Saturday that they have 748 sworn statements, explaining that it meant that number is of their witnesses to appear in court.
Khumbo Soko, one of the lawyers for the first petitioner, Saulos Chilima, of UTM Party, disclosed that they have 40 witnesses on their side, creating an internal debate among lawyers involved in the case if the 12 days allocated to hear the matter would be enough.
The case, which entered second day of hearing by Friday, has attracted huge public interest and is being covered live by some local broadcasters.
There is also Chichewa translation, and efforts through an application by lawyers for petitioners to dispense with the translation as it was consuming too much time, was dismissed by a five-judge panel of Healey Potani, Dingiswayo Madise, Mike Tembo, Redson Kapindu and Ivy Kamanga.
The hearing has started at a time the nation is on fire with protests, usually violent, to force MEC chaiperson Jane Ansah resign on accusations that she presided over fraudulent electoral process.