The much anticipated elections case finally kicked off on Thursday afternoon at the High Court in Lilongwe.
It was however not without controversy as earlier on, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale complained to the court that he was yet to be served with some documents from UTM lawyers and study them.
He then asked for an adjournment of six days to enable him thoroughly prepare for the case and organise necessary responses.
Kaphale argued that no lawyer would do a trial a day after being served with all the files and work on them arguing that once cross examination starts it would inconvenience the concerned parties.
He stated that he was not served in good time with summons of seven files containing bulky documents and affidavits some of which needed to be assessed by ICT experts from the Malawi Electoral Commission.
He justified his call for adjournment saying there is need for MEC to go back to collect more information from presiding officers.
Kaphale brought to the court’s attention that according to civil procedure rules, he needed 14 days to look at some new material brought to him so that he can ably cross-examine.
One of the lawyers representing Peter Mutharika David Kanyenda, also supported the adjournment call through an oral application and noted that some of the sworn statements were ineffectual.
Malawi Congress Party lawyers indicated that they were unable to serve the files at the AG’s office due to the tense political climate from the anti-Ansah demonstrations.
Mordecai Msiska clarified that what Kaphale referred to as new material were replies to the sworn statements from the Commission’s Chief Elections Officer and other officials.’
He further argued that the AG had a team of practitioners who are there to ensure that issues are handled and reduce the workload.
Msiska cited that if anything what the Attorney General needed was only one day considering the time-frame allocated to the case and the urgency of the matter.
After breaking for the morning session, Chair of the Judges Healey Potani, gave the AG Saturday and Sunday instead of the requested six days, to read and respond to sworn statements by the MCP President thus giving him time to start responding on Monday afternoon.
After dismissing Kaphale’s application, the case swiftly went into action with the AG cross-examining UTM President Saulos Chilima mostly on the electoral processes.
Among others, he was grilled on the independence of the electoral body, the role of party monitors, his contention on the declared winner and if he was aware that all accusations he had made had to be substantiated.
Potani informed the gathering that they wanted a place which could accommodate more people to follow proceedings, but noted that they have to do with what is currently available.
He reiterated his call to media houses which have been granted permission to cover the case live to exercise the highest level of professionalism
Initially the case was supposed to be done within 10 days minus weekends but the case will now be conducted within 12 days and will also be in Chichewa for public interest.