By A Mwebantu Correspondent in Malawi,
THE CONSTITUTIONAL Court in Malawi has ordered for fresh presidential elections after it nullified the re-election of President Peter Mutharika.
In a unanimous decision by the all five Judges, the court has determined that fresh elections be held within 150 days (5 months) and should also consider adopting 50+1 voting system.
The judgment follows a contest mounted by the two main opposition parties; Malawi Congress and UTM, challenging the May 21, 2019 election results that saw the incumbent being declared a winner with 38.57% of votes.
However, the polls were heavily marred with irregularities including altered voters tally sheets, unsigned which the Malawi Electoral
Commission (MEC) insisted had no impact on the overall outcome.
But the court siting in capital city Lilongwe has called for new elections because irregularities rendered the whole process and re-election of Mutharika void.
“We hereby order the nullification of the elections. We also order that a fresh election be held. The court will give subsequent direction as to when fresh polls will be conducted.
The results are not a true reflection of the results. There was an undue return. This finding is based of seeing both sides.
“We hold that that the first respondent [President Mutharika] was not duly elected as the president of Malawi. The status quo in the presidency, that is including the office of the Vice president reverts
to what was prior to elections,” ruled lead judge, Healey Potani. Saulos Chilima was the country’s vice present prior to the election in which he contested as a torchbearer on an UTM ticket.
In a record longest court judgment, Potani acknowledged that it is almost impossible have an election that is free of any irregularities.
“However, in the present matter it has been our finding that the anomalies have been so wide spread, systematic and grave such that the integrity of the results have been seriously compromised. The results
declared by the second respondent, cannot be trusted as true reflection of the votes cast on 21 May 2019,” determined the judge. Malawi follows the first past the past voting system also called the simple majority which the court has questions in its determination.
“Judges recommend reforming the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act (PPEA) as in its current state it does not provide means of handling cases where none of the candidates has a majority vote.
Where there are more than two candidates in an election, the candidate who gets the largest share of votes might only get a plurality and not
a majority. To be clear, majority is 50%+1,” Potani told the court. Among the highlights of the judgment, the court has found that the electoral commission had breached a number of legal provisions related
“This Court found that there were about 75 000 null and void votes. The court finds that the figures announced by the second respondent
that none of the candidates were voted truly by majority. There was blatant case of failure to account vast majority of record books,” ruled Potani.
Political Scientist Boniface Dulani has in particular hailed the ruling in particular how the court went an extra mile to highlight the extent of election mismanement by MEC.
“Feeling anti-climactic now. Court’s decision has been obvious for past couple of hours. But court still highlighting additional irregularities in management of the election results by MEC. Feels like a boxer who continues to pummel a competitor on the floor,” he
With 1,940,709 votes, Mutharika was declared a winner of a closely contested election beating Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera who amassed 1,781, 740 votes representing 35.41 percent. Chilima came third with 1,018, 369 votes, translating into 20.24 percent of votes counted.