The Office of the Ombudsman is today set to release a report of its investigation into the ill-fated decision by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to hire lawyers from South Africa for the presidential election case appeal.
Office of the Ombudsman spokesperson Arthur Semba conf irmed in an interview yesterday that there port , titled Upholding the Profession, will be made public today.
“The Ombudsman, Honourable Martha Chizuma will tomorrow, Thursday 4th March, 2021 release a report on an investigation into alleged acts of abuse of power and other acts of maladministration in the procedure of procuring and engaging South African lawyers by the former Attorney General and Malawi Electoral Commission,” he said.
MEC came under the spotlight when it engaged South African l egal firm Mboweni Maluleke Inc Attorneys for a contract sum of $788 500 (about K600 million), half of which had to be paid in advance on or by March 13 2020.
The electoral body wanted the South African lawyers to represent it in an appeal case against the decision by a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court which on February 3 2020 nullified the May 21 2019 Presidential Election over irregularities.
The court also granted . the petitioners, Saulos
Chilima of UTM Party and Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party, their wish for a fresh election
The Ombudsman’s investigation, among other things, reviewed whether the costs for the hiring of the lawyers were just i f iable and whether the country ’s procurement laws were followed.
The lawyers did not attend the appeal hearing due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Malawi Law Society also opposed the hiring of the South African lawyers, but former MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who was a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, said there were no local lawyers available to represent the electoral body in the appeal.
Former Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale was allegedly involved in the hiring of the lawyers despite the Constitutional Court condemning his participation in the court case