Mutharika’s lawyers apologise for attacking judges

Ministry of Agriculture

President Peter Mutharika’s lawyers were forced to apologise to the Constitutional Court for calling the 3 February ruling “an affront to the Constitutional order”.

Mutharika’s lawyer Charles Mhango apologised to the five judges of the Constitutional Court this morning during hearing of applications from Mutharika and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for the suspension of implementation of the ruling on presidential election case.

The court last week nullified the 2019 Presidential Elections and ordered MEC to hold fresh elections.

The Nation reported that during hearing for the stay of the judgement, Justice Redson Kapindu questioned Mutharika’s lawyers Frank Mbeta and Mhango if it was okay to describe the ruling “an affront to the Constitutional order” or “subservience to the will of the people.”

Kapindu also expressed concern over the lawyers’ use of the term “judicial legislation” to describe the court ruling.

Mhango apologised for the use of the terms and he withdrew them saying they do not conform to decorum of judicial practice which stipulates that judges should not be attacked directly.

He also asked the five judges of the Constitutional Court not to be influenced by the statements when making their decision on the application for the stay of the judgment.

In his submission during the hearing, Mutharika’s lawyer Mhango said the appeal against the Constitutional Court ruling in the Supreme Court will be rendered useless if the judgement is enforced.

He noted that Parliament has already started implementing the court orders while other institutions are waiting for the appeal.

On his part, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who is representing MEC argued that the judgement should be suspended saying  there would be chaos if after the fresh presidential elections Mutharika get voted out but the Supreme Court later rules that Mutharika was legitimately elected in the 2019 polls.

He further argued that the court should consider the risks of injustice to any of the parties if a stay is not provided.

In his submission, Senior Counsel Mordecai Msisha, lawyer for Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera, argued that Mutharika failed to demonstrate in his application that he suffered harm due to the Constitutional Court’s ruling. He noted that the ruling allowed Mutharika to continue to be in office until the fresh elections.

The court is expected to deliver its ruling on the issue this afternoon.