Chilima in Court

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima is today expected to know the fate of his United Transformation Movement (UTM) when the High Court delivers a ruling on the status of the movement’s registration as a political party.

Saulos Klaus Chilima
Chilima in court

The registrar of political parties had rejected UTM’s application on the basis that the movement used abbreviations.

Deputy registrar of political parties Chikumbutso Namelo said Chilima had deliberately opted for the abbreviation instead of the full name to mislead the registrar as the applicants were aware of another registered political party with a similar sounding name.

Chilima, through lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, appealed against the registrar’s decision, arguing that the registrar made a decision based on information that Chilima and his colleagues had not submitted.

“The respondent erred in law and fact in deciding whether to register UTM or not by taking into account matters and evidence that was not presented before him by either UTM or any of its officials and hereby acted as prosecutor, witness and a judge in the same case,” reads the grounds of the appeal.

Chilima also argued that it was unfortunate that the registrar decided to interpret UTM as meaning United Transformation Movement when there was no such evidence before him and that the law does not require the registrar to look for the meaning of the name that he thinks of.

UTM’s appeal is being challenged by the state. Presiding over the case is Judge John Chirwa.