Witness testifies against Katopola in Monick case: Malawi suspended Clerk of Parliament

A former administration officer responsible for procurement at Parliament, Alice Namate, was called to testify in the case involving suspended Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola in which she is being accused of awarding of K87 000 contracts to her firm, Monick Trends, in 2007.

Namate, who also acted as secretary for the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC), is among the prosecution witness lined up against Katopola.

When she took to the witness stand and swore to tell the court the truth, Namate who said her relationship with Katopola is “cordial” said despite being secretary of the IPC she only knew of the Monick Trends procurement after an audit query.

The prosecution of Katopola is being led by Tione Namanga, a prosecutor in the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) chamber.

In her evidence-in-chief, Namate told presiding Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa that as secretary to the IPC she was supposed to know any procurement deal but she was kept in the dark.

Katopola (left) coming out of court on Friday

Katopola (left) coming out of court on Friday

Namate said even after the purchase, she was never informed as procedure requires.

“Every procurement had to go through my office but I Just heard about this case later after the issue came out,” she told the court.

But Namate said part of her testimony was hearsay when Katopola’s lawyer, Samuel Tembenu quizzed her during cross examination.

Katopola is accused of flouting procedures and not declaring interest when Parliament procured printing and photocopying services from Monik Trends.

She pleaded not guilty to two charges of abuse of office and failure to declare interest in award of contracts.

Katopola was initially implicated in the case following a probe by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

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

Late Mutharika argued that the sum involved was too little to warrant any disciplinary action.

The matter has been adjourned to July 22. 2013 for continued trial at which prosecutor Namanga said she will parade four more witness.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly is yet to pay K5.5 million bill accrued through Katopola for her car rental, a Toyota Fortuner from Countrywide Car Hire of Mike Mlombwa  which Parliament has been spending K1.5 million monthly, spokesman for the National Assembly Leonard Mengezi confirmed.

He also confirmed that Katopola is still getting K745, 00, 500 liters of fuel monthly and allowances among other benefits as she remains interdicted.

Mengezi said the decision to pay her full entitlement was made after an advice from the Attorney General.

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