The circus continues amid sweat, Tippex and all

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah declared President Peter Mutharika winner of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

In reaction, some Malawians demonstrated for and against the decision. Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM Party counterpart Saulos Chilima are challenging the presidential election results in court.

The High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court is hearing the case.

To date, the court has been shown that there were 1 593 334 duplicate forms, 1 330 448 valid votes that were altered, 1 120 104 tally sheets that were presented, without signatures, 524 340 sheets also presented and accepted despite having correctional fluid Tippex alterations therein and 188 172 fake results sheets.

But Sean Kampondeni’s recollection of Monday’s court hearing indicated that MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika was sweating while being cross-examined.

Kampondeni highlights how Chakwera’s lawyer Mordecai Msisha’s cross-examination succeeded in getting Alfandika to admit or acknowledge seven key things:

1. MEC suspected before the elections that Tippex might be used and so they made it clear to presiding officers in advance that Tippex should not be used.

Alfandika’s admission shows that presiding officers and constituency returning officers allowed the use of Tippex; this was not out of ignorance nor out of a belief that the use of Tippex was allowed. They did it knowing that it was not allowed and having been told not to do it, making the use of Tippex by them not only irregular, but also intentional and malicious.

2. Before the elections, MEC sent inspection teams to polling centres to check that they were compliant with the standards MEC had set in advance, and yet the inspection teams were neither required to check for or confiscate any Tippex found nor were required to report on whether or not  they found or confiscated Tippex during the inspection.

Alfandika’s admission demonstrated that even though MEC anticipated in advance that some of its officers might be tempted to use Tippex, told its officers not to use Tippex and had the means to prevent the use of Tippex; hence,, MEC nonetheless did not use those means to prevent the use of Tippex.

3. Alfandika said a fact-finding investigation into the use of Tippex was done by MEC officials.

This admission showed that the MEC CEO was in direct contradiction with MEC chairperson, whose June 24 2019 interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station cited that no investigation was done by MEC at any point as to where the Tippex came from.

Alfandika attempted to explain the discrepancy. However, whether Alfandika or Ansah are telling the truth, MEC was only interested in investigating the complaints about the usage of Tippex no sooner than four weeks after it already announced the results when the law requires MEC to settle all complaints during election week and before announcing the results.

4. MEC was informed by the auditing firm BDO that there were “many” results sheets which they rejected because they had Tippex on them, or because they had alterations, or because they had missing signatures. But MEC wrote an official letter to BDO instructing the auditors to accept them.

Alfandika testimony showed that:

(a) MEC failed to take proactive steps to prevent the use of Tippex and other irregularities before the elections.

After the elections, MEC was given an opportunity by the auditors to keep Tippexed, unsigned and altered results sheets out of its tabulation process, but instead MEC commissioners and the CEO played an active and decisive role in ensuring the inclusion of such, making them complicit in the irregularities committed by MEC personnel at polling and constituency tally centres.

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