Reelected Nkhata Bay Central legislator Symon Vuwa Kaunda (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) is demanding K600 million compensation from the electoral body in damages suffered following nullification of his May 2019 election.
Through his lawyer Leonard Mbulo, Kaunda has given Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) 14 days to pay him or face legal proceedings.
In a letter to MEC, Kaunda’s lawyer argues that the nullification of the parliamentary result in Nkhata Bay Central Constituency by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal subjected his client to psychological trauma as people perceived him as someone who rigged the election.
Mbulo alleges that Kaunda suffered because of MEC’s negligence and recklessness in not following procedures in the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act (PPEA).
People’s Party candidate Raphael Mhone, who lost to Kaunda in the 2019 election, challenged his rival’s victory citing irregularities, including alleged violation of the Political Parties Act by giving handouts prior and during the election.
But Kaunda’s lawyer states in the letter that his client incurred expenses to campaign for the court-ordered fresh parliamentary election held on June 30. Kaunda won the fresh election with 5 422 votes against Mhone’s 5 163 votes.
The letter addressed to MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale reads in part: “Had it been that your institution was diligent in the discharge of its statutory duty as provided in the PPEA, our client’s first victory in the 2019 could not have been nullified by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on 21st April, 2021.
“Therefore, after considering all the necessary factors and the relevant laws we find that your institution is liable for the suffering that our client has undergone due to your recklessness in the discharge of your duties. Thus on behalf of our client, we hereby demand from you the sum of K600 million to be paid within 14 days.”
Yesterday, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he could not comment on the matter as he had not yet seen the letter demanding compensation.
But Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Michael Kaiyatsa said from a human rights perspective, Kaunda has a right to demand compensation if he feels that he was unfairly treated.
However, he observed that it was the court and not MEC which nullified the election.
In April this year, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal nullified the May 21 2019 parliamentary election result for Nkhata Bay Central Constituency after Mhone challenged the High Court decision dismissing his application.
In its judgement, the court faulted MEC for failure to bring original documents before the court to support its position that Kaunda emerged victorious in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.