The moment that Malawians have been waiting for with baited breath finally arrives on 8/8/2019 when a panel of five judges sitting at the High Court in Lilongwe begins to hear the 2019 Presidential Elections case.
In the case, MCP President Lazarous Chakwera, the first petitioner, UTM Party president Saulos Chilima, the second petitioner are asking the court to nullify the election on the grounds that the process that saw Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party retain Malawi’s Presidency was marred by glaring irregularities.
The two petitioners had initially filed separate cases, but the court forced them into a marriage of convinience when it consolidated the case and referred it to a constitutional court.
Defending his position is Mutharika the former US law professor alongside the Malawi Electoral Commission as first and second respondents, respectively.
Mutharika through his lawyers Mbeta and Company and MEC’s legal team already attempted to have the case thrown out but their plea was rejected by the courts which ruled that the two petitioners had a valid case.
That development marked the first delay to the case taking off in earnest. The court then set July 19 as the start date.
But then MEC led by its director of legal services David Matumika Banda complained of difficulties in collecting sworn affidavits from its returning officers particularly in the Central Region and so requested an extension.
A partial one was granted, leading to the case having to start this Thursday.
It is expected that by the time the case commences, both parties will have served each other with relevant documents including responses; as the law only allows for 24 days within which such matters should be heard and concluded.
The task for Chakwera and Chilima’s lawyers will be to prove that there were indeed irregularities necessitating the annulment of the elections while MEC and Mutharika attempt to prove otherwise.
In the cross-fire, Malawians who since the announcement of the results have been taking to the streets to demand that MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah should step down, will be looking for nothing but the truth and justice to prevail.
The hopes, future aspirations of Malawians on the matter now lie in the hands of Justices Healey Potani, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise, Ivy Kamanga and Redson Kapindu.
The belief is that the five judges will weigh the evidence presented before them and come up with a fair and just judgment.
The hope is also that no undue attempts will be made to influence their decision which is why the chief justice probably elected five judges to hear the matter and has had their security detail beefed up.
And when the matter is concluded and the court rules in favour of whichever side it deems deserving, it is our hope that Malawians will accept the decision and move on.