Court bars AG from seeking Chilima’s opinions

The Constitutional Court on Monday barred the Attorney General from soliciting opinions from UTM leader Saulos Chilima when the AG was cross-examining the former vice president.

The presidential election case continued on Monday with Kaphale interrogating Chilima on the affidavits his legal team has submitted to support their challenge of the presidential elections.

Chilima and Chakwera at the court

While analyzing the affidavits, Kaphale noted that the percentage of the polling centres affected by cases of intimidation of polling staff was 0.0022 percent.

The AG then asked Chilima how he would act if he were a member of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) based on such percentages.

However, Chilima’s lawyers Marshal Chilenga objected saying the AG was asking Chilima to provide an opinion and not facts.

The Court adjourned for the five-panel judge to make a decision and when proceedings resumed, the court upheld the objection by Chilima’s lawyers.

Judge Healy Potani said the court was guided by a criminal case between government and Mr Sulemani where Justice Mwangulu ruled that opinions are not facts except for opinions by experts and the court does not consider opinions from witnesses since opinions are matters for the judge.

“It is the Judge who should make an opinion. In the present case, the issue on which the opinion has been sought, is central to the determination of the matter at hand based on factual and legal considerations. At the end of it all, the objection is upheld,” Potani said.

The court further rebuked Kaphale for laughing while another lawyer, Bright Theu was making his submission.

After the ruling, Kaphale said he was bound to the ruling and continued to cross-examine Chilima based on the sworn statements submitted by his legal team.

He later apologised for the reaction to Theu’s submission saying he is a human being.

During the proceedings, Chilima’s lawyers continued to protect the UTM leader from being asked to provide opinions on sworn statements by UTM monitors in the May 21 elections.

The UTM leader and Malawi Congress Party President Lazarus Chakwera are challenging the outcome of the May 21 elections in which President Peter Mutharika was declared winner.  Mutharika and MEC are respondents in the case.