Darlington Ndasauka, a witness for the immediate-past vice-president SaulosChilima, takes to the witness stand this morning for re-examination after days of cross-examination in the historic elections case.
Frank Mbeta, one of the lawyers representing first respondent President Peter Mutharika, took Ndasauka head-on as he wrapped up his cross-examination, making the witness admit more than once that he did not have evidence to support the claim that votes were manipulated in favour of Mutharika.
In the middle of the grueling cross-examination, Ndasauka was put off balance after Mbeta noticed that in answering questions, the witness was referring to a revised sworn statement which was yet to be accepted as part of the court record.
Mbeta complained to the court that lawyers representing the first petitioner, Chilima, acted in an unacceptable manner by allowing the witness to use a document that was not part of the court record.
He demanded an explanation from Chilima’s lawyers.
Bright Theu, one of the lawyers for the first petitioner, defended the witness by informing the court that the document was part of the court record.
Theu said he did not want to explain what happened when he was doing service, but it transpired later, on Mbeta’s insistence, that due process to make an application to ask the court to permit the document was not done.
Following acknowledgment by the court that the process to have the document permitted was not done, Theu apologised for what he termed an “oversight”, promising to follow that process.
But this did not please Mbeta and Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale, who is representing Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), who said it was not proper for Chilima lawyers to allow the witness introduce a document not on court record in the middle of the cross-examination, with the AG saying it will put him in a bad position, having already conducted cross-examination on the witness.
Justice Mike Tembo, who makes the five-judge panel, ruled the document out, ordering the witness not to refer to it further as he took questions from Mbeta.
Tembo said there was need to follow proper procedures when bringing such documents.
Ndasauka, who was a team leader for UTM Party monitors, is the third witness in the elections petition case after Chilima and the party’s roving monitor Miriam Gwalidi.
The turn of the second petitioner, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential hopeful Lazarus Chakwera, will come after the court finishes hearing Chilima’s witnesses in this case likely to continue up to December, according to the Judiciary.
In a related development, the Constitutional Court yesterday ordered investigative and prosecution agencies to probe MEC warehouse manager DiversonMakwete for possible perjury after it came to the knowledge of the court that he may have lied under oath that log books used during the elections were kept by Parliament.
Potani ordered the agencies concerned to investigate Makwete, one of the witnesses for the electoral body, who gave a sworn statement to the court.
The court sat for half a day yesterday, morning hours, to give a chance to the AG and other government officers to attend budget presentation at Parliament.