The High Court in Mzuzu on Monday ruled in favour of Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Symon Vuwa Kaunda, upholding him as winner of Nkhata Bay Central parliamentary seat.
Former legislator for the constituency Ralph Mhone petitioned the court to declare him winner or order a rerun, claiming there were irregularities during the May 21 polls.
He claimed elections were rigged in some centres, that his monitors were barred from signing the result sheets and that his monitors were also beaten.
Mhone also claimed that a ballot box for one of the centres was not sealed and that the results were given orally.
The moment of truth came on Monday afternoon when the court made a determination.
The court was filled to capacity and some people had to follow the proceedings from the Mzuzu Court House reception where the sitting was being beamed on television sets.
Both Kaunda and Mhone looked anxious as they waited for the judge to deliver the ruling.
The two, who sat on the same bench and were separated by a lawyer in between, listened attentively as the judge went through the case.
However, as Judge Thomson Ligowe read the ruling, it soon became clear that Kaunda would carry the day.
The judge kept questioning the petition made by Mhone and also his monitors’ failure to make a formal complaint when they noted irregularities.
Ligowe also did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate claims of irregularities and how they affected the elections.
One of the disputed polling stations was Chisu where Mhone alleged that Kaunda got 303 votes and not 393 as announced by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Ligowe said the court found that there was no sufficient evidence to show that Kaunda had 303 and not 393 votes.
The same applied for Nsinjiwi Centre where it was alleged that Kaunda had 30 votes and not 130.
Ligowe upheld the 130 result for Vuwa and not 30 which Mhone claimed.
The court also did not find sufficient evidence in the claims that monitors were barred from signing the results.
Ligowe also trashed the claim that the beating of a monitor had an impact on the results. He said the issue will be handled by police and was already reported to the law enforcers.
He further did not find sufficient evidence in Mhone’s application, and went head to dismiss the petition with costs.
Speaking after the ruling, Kaunda, who was all smiles, said the judgement was a relief to him, his family and colleagues.
“I have been affected a lot. Even right now I am affected. MPs are meeting but I am here attending the court case. This has also had a negative effect on my reputation. I thank God that the Court has come to my rescue. The truth has prevailed,” he said.
Mhone refused to comment on the matter, but his lawyer Brecious Kondowe said he needed to go through the judgment and discuss with his client on the way forward.
“You cannot just make a decision before going through the judgment. I have to first go through it and discuss with my client,” he said. After the court ruling, Democratic Progressive Party turned the Mzuzu High Court compound into a celebration ground.