Joyce Banda refuses to fire Katopola


Malawi President Joyce Banda has rejected the recent recommendation by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to fire Matilda Katopola as Clerk of Parliament on grounds that procedures were not followed.

“It’s true that she [Katopola] has been written to report back to work and we are just awaiting her response,” said PSC chairperson Henry Chimunthu-Banda on Wednesday.

The President’s decision has taken over a month since the PSC made the recommendation to fire the Clerk on May 21 2012.

Chimunthu Banda, who is also Speaker of Parliament, declined to disclose the reasons why the President has rejected their recommendation. But sources said that apart from the unprocedural issues, she also considered the cost to taxpayers of firing Katopola.

Katopola, who was sent on forced leave pending her removal, has been given a week to respond to the letter.

JB’s decision comes after The Nation story last month revealed that Vice-President Khumbo Kachali and Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka pressurised the PSC chair to remove her.

According to minutes of the PSC meeting for May 21, 2012 which made reference to a meeting of Kachali, Msaka and Chimunthu Banda.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and others later accused the Banda administration of making political decisions that are costly to the nation and described Katopola’s issue as witch-hunting.

Had Banda sacked Katopola, taxpayers would have ended up paying a whopping K900 million (about $3.6 million) in compensation because she is due for retirement in 2030 when she will be 60.

Katopola on Wednesday declined to comment on whether or not she is ready to go back to work.

“I reserve my comments as of now,” she said.

Katopola is on bail after she was arrested last month and charged with abuse of office. Police are yet to take her to court.

Police sources earlier told The Nation that Katopola was charged based on a 2008 case in which she was accused of misprocurement of colour printing services for the National Assembly’s Strategic Plan at the cost of K86 997 (about $348).

Both the National Audit Office and the PSC cleared Katopola of the allegation when Louis Chimango was Speaker and chairperson of the PSC.

Fast facts

-Katopola, who is Malawi’s first female Clerk of Parliament, was sent on forced leave by the Parliamentary Service Commission on May 21, 2012 pending termination of her services.

-She is on record as saying that her employers must pay her up to age 60, when she is supposed to have formally retired.

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