By Vincent Gunde
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has applied for a court order to restrain Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM leaders or supporters from disrupting MEC’s meetings with presiding officers.The electoral body filed the application at the court on 18th July, 2019.
According to the application, MEC wants the court to restrain MCP and UTM supporters or leaders from interfering with recording of sworn statements by MEC, threatening presiding officers or MEC staff and unlawfully seizing any electoral commission property.MEC also wants the court to order MCP to withdraw a statement released last week in which the party claimed that MEC was forcing presiding officers to sign new result sheets.In its application, the electoral boy has also asked for more time to file its sworn statement for the election case.“The 2nd respondent shall further seek an order extending time within which to file sworn statements for at least 14 days for the reasons that they have had inadequate time and due to the interference with the recording of the sworn statements and due to the inadequacy of time following the planning and inspection of documents at the warehouse under the custody of the Clerk of Parliament,” reads the application in part.In a sworn statement accompanying the application, MEC Director of Legal Services David Matumika Banda said MEC staff meeting presiding officers were threatened with violence over a week ago.He said the threats issued through social media led to presiding officers in some districts shunning the meetings where MEC was supposed to get sworn statements.
According to Banda, in Chitipa a group of people who insisted to be present during one meeting was filming the recording of statements, conduct which violated lawyer and client privilege.
The MEC lawyers later went to Kasungu where they were also attacked as a mob confiscated files and dismantled computers.“I was assaulted and my shirt was torn by one man demanding for my laptop and Counsel Loness Michongwe was dragged on the floor as she fought for her laptop,” Banda said.
He added that it will be unsafe for MEC to continue with the exercise as long as MCP maintains its statement in which the party called on Malawians to apprehend MEC staff conducting the exercise.“I therefore pray for order of injunction as set out in this application and for an order extending time for recording by sworn statements by a period of fourteen days,” Banda said.
The Constitutional will hear the application on Monday at the High Court in Lilongwe.MCP and UTM are challenging the results of the 21 May elections administered by MEC in which president Peter Mutharika was declared winner.