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Katopola in the dock again, Govt revives Katopola’s 2007 corruption case

Malawi Government has revived the case involving suspended Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Matilda Katopola who is being accused of corruptly awarding a contract worth about K86 000 (about $215) to her firm, Monick Trends, in 2007.

The case was initially dropped after both former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, and a National Audit Office (NAO) report cleared Katopola.

In the case, Katopola is said to have flouted procedures by, among other things, not declaring interest when Parliament procured printing and photocopying services from her firm.

In an interview on Thursday, Malawi’s Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu confirmed that the case has been revived and is scheduled to come before court on April 22, 2013.

However, Itimu could not give further details regarding the case and why government has revived it despite the CoP being cleared by both Mutharika and NAO.

She said: “With regard to the actual details of the case, the matter is in court, evidence will be produced during trial and the court will pass judgment accordingly, beyond that, we cannot discuss the case further.”

Katopola was initially implicated in the case following a probe by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), but was later pardoned by Mutharika who cited that the amount involved was too little to warrant any disciplinary action.

In May last year, PSC, without giving reasons, recommended to President Joyce Banda that Katopola be removed from office.

The commission also sent her on leave pending a decision by the President. However, the President refused to remove Katopola from office, arguing that the commission did not follow procedures in recommending her removal.

Thereafter, PSC, which is chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly, asked Katopola to return to work, but the CoP refused, saying she would only do so after the commission clarified certain issues in the matter.

When she first appeared before the Lilongwe Chief Resident’s Magistrate Court on July 24 2012, Katopola pleaded not guilty to two charges of abuse of office and failure to declare interest in the award of the contract.

She also filed a case at the Industrial Relations Court in Lilongwe, asking the court to declare that she was constructively dismissed and that PSC’s conduct amounted to unfair labour practices.

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