Some Malawi Law Society (MLS) lawyers on Monday met to discuss an application by South African (SA) lawyers to represent Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in the presidential elections appeal case.
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda is tomorrow expected to hear the application which the two South African lawyers submitted to the Judiciary for consideration to practise in the country.
MLS objected to the decision that MEC should engage foreign lawyers on grounds that they did not meet some conditions to practise in the country and that Malawi has capable lawyers who can represent the electoral body in the case whose hearing is scheduled for April 15 this year.
In a confidential memo to MLS members, the society’s honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde asks the lawyers to submit information to be considered in the affidavits before hearing of the application starts tomorrow.
Reads the memo in part: “The motions are set for hearing before the honourable Chief Justice on Wednesday, April 8 2020 at 9am.
“Given the interest previously expressed by some members, the society now calls upon any member who may have any legal or factual material and/or information that is considered relevant to buttress an MLS objection to this admission to kindly get in touch with the vice-chairperson of the society…”
It further states that MLS, through the secretariat, received service of application for admission of the Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza and Elizabeth Makhanani Baloyi-Mere to represent MEC in the presidential elections case appeal.
During tomorrow’s hearing, MLS will present its facts in objection to the decision MEC made to hire foreign lawyers.
Kaukonde, in a written response on Monday declined to comment on the issues discussed during on Monday’s meeting, saying they were confidential.
She said: “If you read the is a confidential memo to MLS members only. Let me not comment on that at the moment as it relates to matters subject of judicial proceedings before the honourable Chief Justice in few days time.” memo, you will see that it
The South African lawyers’ application followed MEC’s intention to engage the South African firm to represent it in the appeal case filed against the Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election and ordered a fresh one.
MLS guided the Judiciary that foreign lawyers need to have a licence or must be vetted to trace their capability to represent people or institutions in the country; hence, the request that those interested should make a formal application to the Chief Justice for consideration.
MEC hired foreign lawyers a few days after it transpired that the licence of Counsel Tamando Chokotho, who represented the commission in the presidential election nullification case, had expired.
It also followed the Constitutional Court determination that Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale should no longer represent MEC as the AG is only mandated to play an advisory role to the electoral body.
MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah last month said the commission opted for South African lawyers because local lawyers they approached turned them down while the one who accepted to work with the electoral body would only be available after April 2020.
MEC lost the elections case in which UTM Party leader Saulos Chilima, who is also State Vice-President, and his Malawi Congress Party counterpart Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court to nullify the May 2019 presidential election, citing massive irregularities in the handling of results.