The High Court in Blantyre yesterday ordered the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to allow Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Jessie Kabwila to contest as a parliamentary candidate in Salima North West Constituency.
The court also asked MEC to immediately hear a complaint lodged by disqualified Umodzi Party president Professor John Chisi.
In his ruling, Judge Dustain Mwaungulu said Kabwila was not employed by the University of Malawi (Unima) when she presented her nomination papers in February this year.
The judge also observed that when Kabwila was working, she was a public servant, contradicting an earlier judgement by Judge Mike Tembo on Monday in the case of Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) lecturer Matthews Ngwale, a United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate in Chiradzulu West.
Tembo said the definition of public office as contained in Section 51 (2) (e) of the Constitution was limited to public office in the civil service as decided by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of Fred Nseula (deceased) versus Attorney General (1999) MLR 313 (MSC).
But Mwaungulu said he was not bound by the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling because Kabwila was an academic staff of a public university.
He said Kabwila should be allowed to stand because she got leave of absence and it was not automatic that she would be allowed back after the expiry of her leave of absence.
On Chisi, Mwaungulu said MEC, when hearing his case, should take into account that in relation to a presidential candidate, it has no jurisdiction to act without complaint as it has under Section 40 of PPEA concerning nomination for membership to the National Assembly.
MCP secretary general Gustav Kaliwo expressed satisfaction with the ruling while MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the commission would read the judgement and decide whether to appeal or not.