A key witness in the corruption case against embattled Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Matilda Katopola on Friday told the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court that Katopola by-passed Parliament’s Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) in procuring the services of her company.

The state accuses the CoP of being responsible for miss-procurement when her office allegedly awarded K87, 000 worth of procurement contract to Monik Trends, a company she allegedly owns, to purchase a photocopying machine.

Alice Namate, a former Administration Officer responsible for procurement at the National Assembly – who also acted as secretary for the IPC during the period of the deal, said she only knew of the procurement after an audit query.

During cross examination from Katopola’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu, Namate admitted part of her testimony was hearsay based on what she heard from other people.

She, however, told presiding Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa that as secretary to the IPC, she was supposed to know any procurement deal but she was neither aware that any machine at the institution had broken down nor any intention to purchase a replacement.

Namate, who described her relationship with Katopola as “cordial”, further said even after the purchase, she was never informed as procedure requires, adding that she does not know whether Katopola indeed owns Monik Trends.

“Every procurement had to go through my office but I just heard about this case later after the issue came out (through an audit report),” she told the court.

Katopola is answering a charge of abuse of office contrary to Section 34 of the penal code and failure to declare interest contrary to Section 25(d) sub-section (2a) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Katopola pleaded not guilty to either of the charges during her first court appearance. She faces a 12-year jail term if convicted on the account of failure to declare interest and a maximum five years for the abuse of office charge.

Tione Namanja, a prosecutor in Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) chambers, later told Malawi News the state will parade four more witnesses when hearing resumes on 22nd July this year.

“We could have paraded more witnesses today but we failed to do so due to logistical challenges. We will parade the other witnesses during the next hearing,” he said.

Both the National Audit Office and Parliamentary Service Commission previously cleared the CoP of any wrong – by Golden Matonga

IN COURT — Katopola flanked by Tembenu and a sympathiser
Picture by Jacob Nankhonya

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