UNDP IMPLICATED IN ELECTIONS CASE…Fails to disclose elections audit report

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been implicated in the on-going presidential elections case for failure to provide the elections audit report which was used as a basis of declaring the May 21 elections results.
 
The constitutional court sitting in Lilongwe on 27 June 2019 ordered the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to provide the court and the petitioners, UTM president Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera with originals of log books, originals of results tally sheets, originals of voter registers, counterfoils for all ballot papers used, unused, spoilt and cancelled and the audit report by 7 July 2019.
 
But MEC is yet to comply with this order.
 
Two officials from MEC, King Norman Rudi and Deverson Makwete told the court that the originals of the other documents were in the custody of the Clerk of Parliament and that the elections audit report has always been in the custody of the UNDP Malawi Office.
 
“It was on this basis that the court ordered the Electoral Commission to ‘immediately ask UNDP in writing to furnish such information (including audit report) and should the said UNDP decline UNDP’s communication in that regard should immediately be communicated to the court’. The Electoral Commission did not disclose the Audit Report nor did it furnish the court with any communication from UNDP.”
 
“When the Court reconvened on 25 July, 2019, in a unanimous decision, it concluded that the Electoral Commission had among other things failed to disclose the originals of log books, originals of result tally sheets, and the audit report. The Court also noted that Mr Deverson Makwete of the Electoral Commission had possibly lied under oath to the Court. The Court, therefore, ordered the law enforcement agencies to investigate Mr Makwete for perjury.”
 
“Regarding the audit report, the Court observed that the Electoral Commission brought no evidence before it where the Commission has contacted the UNDP-Malawi Office to access the report. The Court was fortified in concluding that the Electoral Commission has failed to obey its order for disclosure of the audit report,” said a legal guru who was analysing the status of the case as an independent legal observer.
 
“The failure to disclose the audit report is far-reaching considering that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Dr Jane Ansah, repeatedly informed the Malawi nation and the general public that the vote counting process and the declaration of the national result of the 21 May, 2019 elections were duly audited. Further, the failure to disclose the originals of log books raises the question of credibility of the results announced by the Electoral Commission since the log books are the primary source of results for each stream,” said the legal guru.
 
Our investigations however have found out that actually the UNDP Malawi office provided the report to the Electoral Commission which has not provided the same as per court order.
 
“This is an indication that the audit report is not favourable to the Electoral Commission,” said another analyst.
 
The legal guru said it is in the interest of justice for the UNDP Malawi Office to disclose the Audit Report as ordered by the court as failure to do so may lead to allegations of obstruction of justice against UNDP.
 
MCP lead lawyer Titus Mvalo said they have not been served with the audit report and the originals of the other documents as ordered by the court.
 
Lawyer George Mwale representing Chilima also said they too have not been served with the documents as ordered by the Constitutional Court.
 
Full trial of the case starts on 8August, 2019 in Lilongwe

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