Day seven of the on-going elections case was characterised by persistent interjections from both parties which dragged the pace of proceedings.
The first interruption arose when Peter Mutharika’s lawyer Frank Mbeta was cross-examining Saulos Chilima on pre-marked ballot papers in Mzimba.
He noted that during tallying, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) did not include them and asked if the incident affected the final count which Chilima acknowledged it did.
Mbeta then quizzed Chilima why he did not have any sworn statements supporting this claim of fraud which was quickly objected by his lawyer Chikosa Silungwe and was supported by the Judges who cautioned Mbeta to avoid asking repetitive questions.
He further asked him that since the two pre-marked ballots were not counted did he still want the elections nullified which Chilima said yes to.
Mbeta asked the first petitioner to demonstrate to the court how two ballots could affect the outcome of the final count which was also objected Chilima's legal team; a development they saw as soliciting of opinions.
Malawi Congress Party lawyer Mordecai Msisha expressed concern over the conduct of counsels for Mutharika and MEC saying they were acting in collusion which he feared might affect the pace of the case and might conclude in 2025.
He stated that it is a wastage of time and called on the need to ensure balance of the benefits and costs of managing it.
In his contribution chairperson of the Judges, Healey Potani underscored the need to have the case completed in time.
He censured Msisha over remarks that the case might drag to 2025; arguing that gives a bad impression to those following it.
Msisha then apologised for over-reacting over the matter.
A fierce argument ensued following the playing of an audio clip featuring Mutharika in which he alleged that even his votes were stolen in the central region which according to Chilima falls along the same lines of fraud.
Mbeta asked him if he had filed evidence to court to substantiate the fraud claims which Silungwe also interjected branding it as ludicrous in the absence of a statement intimating on fraud.
Before adjournment Potani described the progress as not encouraging and urged all parties to be mindful of time and urgency of the matter.
Lawyer Khumbo Soko also expressed worry over the interjections which dragged the pace but nonetheless justified them in the interest of ensuring justice on the case.
Former Attorney General Charles Mhango indicated that the bone of contention was on the use of documents which were not served.
He however assured that they will do everything to ensure delivery of justice.