By Morton SIbale – Mana.
Women Lawyers Association of Malawi (WLA) has recommended changes in some laws governing elections and election petitions in the country to avoid the problems the country faced following this year’s tripartite elections.
WLA Coordinator for Research and Advocacy, Dr. Bernadette Malunga made the call in the constitutional court Thursday morning as she presented the oral submissions for the association. Women Lawyers Association joined the ongoing May 2019 Presidential elections case as second amicus curiae (friends of the court).
Malunga in particular suggested clarifications in the laws guiding issues of burden of proof in elections matters. She also suggested amendments to the law guiding the swearing in ceremony of the president-elect. She said that there is a need to allow for some period between announcement of results and the swearing in ceremony, in order to allow for adequate address of concerns emanating from an election.
Asked to clarify on the recommendations on the side-lines of the hearing, Malunga said though parliament is the body that is mandated by the constitution to make laws in the country, the court and other stakeholders have the responsibility to suggest amendment to parliament when they see a need.
“The duty to make laws in this country lies with the Parliament. However, looking at other jurisdictions, we are imploring the court to notice some of the gaps that we pointed out so that parliament can take it up,” Malunga said.
She further said that the courts have in the past recommended parliament to make some electoral reforms where they noticed gaps in the electoral laws.
Similar calls have also been made by other stakeholders before. In October this year, the Malawi law Society released a statement where they also recommended some changes to laws governing elections in Malawi, as a way to ensure that the country avoids some of the challenges that were faced during this year’s election.
Meanwhile, the constitutional court hearing the case in which Saulos Chilima of the UTM and Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party are challenging the election of incumbent president Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party continues hearing oral submissions Friday morning.
On Thursday, the court heard the submissions from the Malawi Law Society and the Women Lawyers Association as friends of court, and Dr. Chikosa Silungwe, lawyer for Saulos Chilima. Lawyer for Lazarus Chakwera Mordechai Msiska is expected to conclude his presentation this morning before lawyers for Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission make their submissions.