YAS asks MEC to challenge ‘exaggerated’ legal bill

Youth and Society (YAS) has asked Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to challenge High Court Registrar’s ruling that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) should pay K7.3 billion to Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima and President Lazarus Chakwera.

In an interview during a press briefing in Mzuzu on Tuesday, YAS Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka said the amount is too much.

He advised the commission to challenge and appeal against the legal fees, saying taxpayers will suffer if the amount is not challenged.

“As Youth and Society we have expressed our concern over the cost that have been awarded to the two parties in the electoral court case. We strongly believe that these costs are exaggerated and that as Malawians we should not accept these unjustified costs that have been awarded by the court. MEC must challenge this in court,” he said.

He also advised Chakwera and Chilima to desist from benefiting the large sums that have been awarded to their legal teams through a “dubious” system.

“Wrong is wrong despite being legitimized by established institutions including the court. We believe that this should have been avoided and we have been failed by the court in this context,” he said.

According to Kajoloweka, YAS will engage the leadership of this country as well as MEC and the Judiciary on the matter.

Last week, the Registrar of the High Court Agness Patemba ordered MEC to pay the legal team for the first respondent (Dr. Saulos Chilima) in the landmark 2019 Presidential Election Results case the sum of K2,314,184,500,00.

The legal team for the second respondent (Dr. Lazarus Chakwera) will pocket K3,086,203,890,00 for the High Court case.

For the costs from the time the elections case was heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal, Chilima’s lawyers were awarded K877,760,000 while lawyers for Chakwera were awarded.

MEC was also told to pay over K300 million to Chilima and Chakwera’s lawyers as costs incurred during a hearing when MEC unsuccessfully applied for the dismissal of the elections case on technical grounds.