By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has acted upon the High Court ruling in Blantyre on April 11, 2019 that determined made that presidential aspirant Dr. Cassim Chilumpha, SC, who was declared duly nominated under the sponsorship of Tikonze Peoples Movement (TPM), cannot continue to represent TPM as its presidential candidate.
The High Court ruling follows a petition which TPM lodged seeking an order that Dr. Chilumpha cannot rightfully represent TPM as a candidate for election as president of the Republic of Malawi.
In a statement, MEC says: “By an order of the Court dated 8th April 2019, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., was added as a party to the proceedings. It was an order of the Court that he should be served with both the petition and the order of the Court adding him as a party to the proceedings.
“In accordance with the rules of the court, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., was served with the following documents through emails dated 9th April 2019:
2. Sworn Statement in Support of the Petition;
3. Petitioner’s Skeleton Arguments;
4. Sworn Statement in Response to the Petition; and
5. Respondent’s Skeleton Arguments.
“Further, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., was given notice that the hearing of the petition was scheduled for 11th April 2019 at 9:00 am. Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., did not attend the proceedings, nor did he send any representative.
“The Court proceeded in his absence and heard the petition and the response to the petition. By judgment, dated 11th April 2019, the Court decided that Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., cannot be on the ballot as a candidate sponsored by TPM on grounds that:
1. He was not elected as presidential candidate for TPM and was not being sponsored as such by TPM in the forthcoming Presidential election; and
2. Mr. Grant Chimenya, who counter-signed the nomination papers, even though an office bearer, was not authorized to certify that Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha, SC., was being sponsored by TPM as candidate for the forthcoming Presidential election.
“Pursuant to the requirements of the law that governs nomination of candidates for presidential elections, the implication of the above Court’s decision is that Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilumpha’s nomination has been rendered invalid.
“The Commission has, therefore, struck off his name from the list of candidates duly nominated for election for the office of the President of the Republic of Malawi,” said the statement signed by Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika.
The whole saga started in February through TPM vice-president Mark Katsonga Phiri who sought legal action following Chilumpha’s decision to go ahead and present nomination papers without the consent of TPM national executive committee.
Katsonga had told the media that TPM constitution dictates that its president and his running mate are supposed to be given a vote of confidence by NEC, which is contrary to what Chilumpha did.
He argued that the party’s NEC voted that Chilumpha be president with Katsonga as his running mate but that arrangement became void when Katsonga went into coalitions with other political parties.
He had said Malawi desperately needs that coalition unity because people in the country are living in a very divided society and if this continued Malawians should forget about development.
Katsonga is running as an MP in Neno South faces stiff competition from independent Barry Kasamba, incumbent Mary Maulidi Khembo, veteran broadcaster Patrick Kamkwatira and former cabinet minister in UDF government Nicholas Kachingwe, who is also contesting as an independent.