The Malawian Constitutional Court is set to deliver its verdict at 9:00am (GMT+2, so 7:00am GMT) on Monday 3 February. Talking to both sides, there is a strong sense that the case is “too close to call”. We will be constantly updating this webpage for with the latest news and information. For live updates from the ground follow @AfricaDemocracy and @fromagehomme.
Scroll down for a summary of the verdict, which nullified the presidential elections.
The Malawian presidential election of 2019 was officially won by the incumbent Peter Mutharika, with 38.57% of the vote, just ahead of Lazarus Chackwera of the Malawi Congress Party on 35.41%.
The opposition immediately rejected the outcome and announced that it would appeal to the Constitutional Court, alleging that the real results were concealed with tipp-ex (whiteout), with fake ones more favourable to the ruling party written over the top.
In the months that followed, the country saw regular political protests as condemnation of the “tipp-ex election” grew. For a great primer, check out this piece by Golden Matonga.
We spoke to a cross-section of Malawians about their hopes and fears for their country.
Full summary of the Court proceedings on Monday 3 February by Chikosa Mozesi Silungwe
Constitutional Court Proceedings Summary
7:00pm Short summary of Constitutional Court Ruling (as widely shared on Twitter)
1. The 1st respondent (President Mutharika) was NOT duly elected as President of Malawi.
2. Results NULLIFIED.
3. Fresh elections has been ORDERED.
4. The conduct of 2nd respondent in managing the elections was very lacking and displayed glaring incompetence.
Consequences & Directions
1. The status of the Presidency and Vice Presidency REVERTS to what was PRIOR before the May 21st Elections.
2. The Ruling doesn’t invalidates all the decisions made by the Presidency before the ruling.
3. Fresh elections to be held within 150 days including Saturdays and Sundays and holidays.
4. Parliament using relevant legal instruments to inquire into the capacity and competency of the 2nd petitioners to hold free, fair and credible elections.
5. Parliament to enable relevant acts to ensure use of 50+1 rule. Parliament to meet within 21 days including Saturdays and Sundays.
6. 1st respondent to bear his own costs. The 2nd respondent to pay costs for the petitioners. The costs to be assessed by the registrar within 14 days.
Monday 3 February 10:00am
We have been going for over an hour and will no hint of the actual verdict. So far it has really just been a case of reviewing the legal context, and providing an overview of the complaints. Malawians are understandably growing frustrated, suggesting the judges need to cut to the chase rather than spend so long summarising the background.
Monday 3 February 9:00am
The Court starts to read the judgement after the judges arrive under heavy security. The broadcast is first in English and then in Chichewa. We are told that the entire judgement – some 500 pages – will be available by 4pm tomorrow. What we will get today is a summary.
Sunday 2 February, 7:00pm
Widespread reports of businesses in Lilongwe closing down and protecting themselves in case of unrest tomorrow.
Most workers we talk to say that they are not planning to go to work. Hotels report a raft of cancellations leading to economic difficulties.
A 1km exclusion zone will be put in place around the Court.
Yet one more reason why the ‘trust’ element is essential in civil institutions as when this trust element is lacking the potential for civic disruption increases–meaning governance leadership ought be dedicated in the creation of trust ensuring all civil institutions are grounded within an ethos professional ethical thereby assauging the publics in being assured of a rules based verdict grounded not in currying favour among the elites in governance.