The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will not appeal against the High Court ruling in favour of Tikonze Peoples Movement (TPM) which barred Cassim Chilumpha from standing on the party’s ticket in the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said in an interview yesterday Chilumpha would have to file for appeal himself if he was not satisfied with the ruling.
MEC’s decision leaves Chilumpha with a few options to take; appeal against the ruling or stand as an independent candidate, both of which he says are hard choices coming 35 days before polling day.
The former vice-president has since blamed the court for making the determination in his absence or his lawyer, claiming he was in a dilemma as he was not part of the case; hence, could not appeal.
But in a written response, Mwafulirwa said Chilumpha was part of the case.
He said: “MEC will not challenge the High Court ruling. If Chilumpha wants, he can go ahead and challenge the ruling. He was part of that case because MEC applied to the court to have him added as a respondent since the matter affected him directly. This was granted and he was duly served. Why he never appeared at the court or sent his lawyer is not our concern.”
The MEC spokesperson said the electoral body would make an official statement over the matter, but did not specify when it would do so.
On Thursday last week, Judge Mike Tembo blocked MEC from endorsing Chilumpha as TPM torchbearer following a complaint from TPM arguing that Chilumpha’s nomination papers had irregularities as he was not sanctioned by the party to represent it.
TPM came into existence last year through a merger of six political parties, namely Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), New Labour Party (NLP), Republican Party (RP), Malawi Democratic Party (MDP), and Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD).
In February, TPM entered into an electoral alliance with the UTM Party.
If Chilumpha stands as an independent candidate, he would become the second presidential candidate to do so in this year’s election after Revelend Kaliya. The development would also reduce the number of presidential candidates sponsored by political parties from seven to six.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, Chilumpha ripped apart the country’s justice system, saying it was setting a bad precedent for future cases.
However, he could not be drawn to comment on his next move, saying he was waiting for official communication from MEC.
Said Chilumpha: “I think the judge should not have made such a decision in my absence. I thought natural justice means the person that you are arguing with should be given a chance to be heard. I was one of the people who fought for multipartyism in this country, what we fought for was justice, but where is the justice and fairness?”
However, the lawyer who represented TPM in the case, Maziko Sauti Phiri, in an e-mailed response yesterday maintained that Chilumpha was duly served.
“It was explained to the Judge that Right Honourable Chilumpha could not be traced but he had been contacted by email. MEC, too, told the Judge that they called his number,” said Phiri.
The court document that we have seen also shows TPM as the petitioner while MEC is the first respondent and Chilumpha is the second respondent.