Corruption, nepotism, abuse of office exposed at Malawi Parliament

In response to President Joyce Banda’s call for submission of corrupt practices in public entities a whistle blower has exposed maladministration, corruption, nepotism and abuse of office at the Malawi National Assembly.

In a submission to the President the whistle blower has chronicled a series of scandals mainly bordering on Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola, Deputy Clerk for Corporate Affairs Robert Mapemba and Assistant Clerk for Legal Affairs Edgar Kachere.

On top of various scams the submission also exposes how Katopola using her power employed several of her relatives at the National Assembly including Mapemba, who is her uncle and Kachere who is her friend.

Katopola: Accused of abuse of office

“This is in response to the ultimatum that was given by Her Excellency the President, Mrs Joyce Banda when she opened the 2012/2013 Budget meeting of Parliament.

“In that ultimatum the President called for all public officials who have knowledge of corrupt practices and embezzlement of public resources going on or that might have happened during the previous
government. My submission is based on corrupt activities and abuse of office at the National Assembly,” starts the whistle blower who also provided his email address for any further inquiries on the issues.

Deliberate Weakening of Internal Control Systems:

The whistle blower sates that the Procurement Act requirements were deliberately ignored by the Clerk of Parliament in order to have her way in procurement issues.

“The COP, refused to Chair the IPC (Internal Procurement Committee) as required by law but instead delegated to poorly qualified staff to chair the IPC. In addition, she removed Mrs A. Kanyowile who was knowledgeable of Procurement issues and instituted an IPC which had no expertise let alone appropriate qualifications to handle procurements matters.

“Furthermore she deliberately did not establish a Procurement Unit and instead issued an Internal Memorandum telling all Members of Staff that all decisions of the IPC were subject to her approval. Following this weakening of systems, the Clerk of Parliament went into the habit of instructing the IPC on who to give procurement contracts. The IPC could not do anything but oblige on the basis that she was the substantive Chairperson as per the Procurement Act and on the basis of the Internal Memorandum that she had issued.

“It is through her verbal instructions that the IPC largely failed to abide by procurement regulations and rules in a number of procurements during the period October 2009 to May 2010. The 1PC could not independently identify any suppliers because we were told which ones were to be considered and we obliged because she would and actually approved invoices personally.

“In addition there was no Procurement Unit to do all the necessary procurement paper work and processing for IPC decision. In that way even if we as, IPC, were to independently identify suppliers she would not approve any such invoice. Travel Options which was identified independently by IPC to offer travel services was rejected by the COP.”

The whistle blower gives examples of suppliers who were given contracts in this manner as YAICO, through Mrs Constance Kilimo her very close relation who was later employed by National Assembly as COP’s Personal Assistant at P7; AAM Furnishers; COMPUTRONIX which belongs to a Mr Makuwira who is said to be an uncle to Mr Katopola, former husband to the COP; Intrade through Mr Kachere who by then was not an employee of National Assembly but somehow was squeezed into the system as Assistant Clerk of Parliament Legal Services; Mike’s Trading, and Kusala Enterprise.

Adds the submission: “Most of the procurements that were done during the October 2009 and May 2010 were irregularly done largely because of (a) the verbal instructions from the Clerk; (b) The deliberate weakening of internal systems in procurements; (c) the lack of knowledge on how to handle procurement issues by the poorly qualified IPC, and (d)   the lack of a procurement Unit as required by law. The Clerk of Parliament was fully aware of these weaknesses but conveniently did nothing to strengthen the systems but opted to be approving everything herself.”

Abuse of fuel:

“For the past one year, there has been serious abuse of fuel by the following officers. Matildah Katopola, R.Mapemba, Edgar Kachere, and a Mr Chaona. The three members of the management team, (Katopola, Mapemba and Kachere) are paid by government, fuel allowances through
their salaries every month, (Katopola K60 000; Mapemba K40 000, Kachere K40 000), yet every week their official cars are refuelled on Fridays and Mondays by Mr Chaona. You can check the records and interview the pool vehicle drivers who can testify to this,” reads the submission.

It adds: “When Prof. Donton Mkandawire died, the office used cash through Mr Chaona to purchase about 3000 litres of fuel. Less than 10 cars were used in two days during the funeral. Mr Mapemba and Mr Chikonda were the supervisors to Mr Chaona on this. The hard cash was shared amongst these three people who up to now have not accounted for this money. A serious audit should be commissioned on this.”

The whistle blower discloses that Mr Mapemba has, within one year bought a plot, and built a mansion in Area 43 within the Capital City when in February March of 2010 he could not even afford a descent jacket to put on for the interviews at National Assembly, while Mr Chaona has also within one year bought and renovated a big house in Area 23 in Lilongwe, and is now almost finishing a mansion in Area 25 worth millions in the same city.

“Yet Mr Chaona is a mere general duties clerk related to Katopola. He is stealing lots of money for himself and for the three managers mentioned above,” claims the whistle blower.

External travel and scholarship abuse:

The whistle blower chronicles how Kachere has abused external travel and scholarship provisions.

“Mr Kachere has on several occasions gotten external travel allowances for longer periods yet he has comeback earlier but has not bothered to refund the allowances. For someone who has just joined Parliament how does one explain the fact that he has travelled almost every month outside the country drawing millions. A serious audit can reveal the extent of the allowances that were paid to the officer without travelling or travelling but coming back earlier.

“Mr Kachere, for instance, was supposed to have travelled to South Africa for the Pan African Parliament for the period 20th May to 2nd June with Members of Malawi Parliament. The other Group left as scheduled on 20th May but Mr Kachere left of latter on 22nd. However instead of staying in South Africa for the period up to 2nd June, Mr Kachere as has always been the case came earlier 28th May. Yet he has drawn hundreds of thousands of Kwachas for the trip

“The office again, paid millions for Mr Kachere to proceed for a Masters Degree outside the country last year in September but up to now he has not gone to start his classes. In addition the Office has
already paid him all the upkeep allowances for the Masters Programme yet he is still around and says he will go in September this year. It has never happened anywhere and worse still no public office has sent an officer abroad for a masters degree after just serving the institution less than a year as is the case with Mr Kachere.”

Abuse of the National Assembly loan facility:

“The three managers, Katopola, Mapemba and Kachere have a tendency of abusing the loan facility at National Assembly. Between May 2010 and November 2011 each of these three would get loans almost every month such that by October 2011 they were saturated with so many loans.

“They (then) illegally amalgamated all outstanding loans including all members of start to appear as if it is a general thing. Yet they did this for their own benefit. After amalgamation, Katopola owed National Assembly over K4,200, 000 while her uncle Mr Mapemba owed the institution over K4,600,000.”

In November 2011, the submission alleges that the three irregularly and illegally awarded themselves hefty loans using ORT (other recurrent transaction) funds and paid themselves as follows: Katopola
got K8 million; Mapemba got K4 million; and Edgar Kachere got K3 million.

“Attached are some of the vouchers which initially indicated “Staff allowances” but were manually changed to:

(1) Motor vehicle loan for Katopola paid through cheque No: 903124 amounting to K8 million through account number 0140001665700 maintained at Standard Bank Capital City branch;

(2)  General Purpose Advance for Mapemba paid through Cheque no: 903123 amounting to K4 million through account number 0140001628000 at Standard Bank, Capital City Branch.”

“This money was paid out of the ORT account and was meant for Staff allowances for the November 2011 sitting of parliament. Mr Mushari an Accountant has all the details on these illegal transactions. The internal Auditor Mr Nasiyaya is aware of this and is concealing some of the documentation including those of Mr Kachere.

“From January 2012 to March 2012, Mr Mapemba has gotten over K900 000 as loans while Katopola in April 2010 got K2,200,000. From a gross salary of over K750 000, Katopola has during the month of May received K81 000 as net pay. You can verify this with salaries.

“To show how crooked and fraudulently the system is, one of the vouchers through which Mr Mapemba was paid K400 000, through cheque number 035300 on 21st March, Mr R.J Chatsalira is the one said to have entered this amount in the National Assembly Vote Book. But Mr
Chatsalira stopped working for National Assembly almost 2 years ago.”

Shoddy procurement deals

“The National Assembly, with full knowledge of the top three above has between July 2011 and March 2012 “procured” stationary of over K110 million from Bestsellers of Lilongwe. Visit National Assembly there is nothing in stock to show or justify that massive expenditure within a short time.

“Katopola is aware that some of these payments were done without the stationery being delivered at National Assembly. She deliberately removed a Mr Kapalamula, Senior Stores Officer with over 15 years of experience as Stores officer and sent him to registry and brought in a Matildah Namondwe and a Mrs Chintengo so that these two should be falsifying records of goods not delivered as delivered.

“These two work hand in hand with the Procurement Officer Mr Kamoto. They fake records as if goods have been received and Kamoto certifies the false invoices and payments are effected. Government has lost millions in such deals. A serious audit will reveal that millions have been paid for goods not delivered and this trend continues since these staff are still intact. By the way, Kamoto, Chintengo, Mapemba and Katopola all come from Chiradzulu and are related.

“The National Assembly bought empty marine containers at a staggering cost of over K8 million almost a year ago. The empty containers would not cost more than a million kwacha under normal circumstances and they are still lying idle and empty at National Assembly backyard. The National Assembly has never used these containers ever since they were bought. Money spent for no reason except to swindle government.

Injunction Bill Consultancy:

“Mr Edgar Kachere, is vice chairperson of the IPC. He awarded a consultancy on Injunction Bill to his friend Dan Kuwali and ended paying him double for the same job which cost a total of over K5
million. Kachere is Secretary to the Legal Affairs committee which decided to have the consultancy. He sits in the IPC which decided to wrongly award Mr Dan Kuwali the consultancy and ended up getting double payment. Auditors from the Central Audit Unit unearthed this double payment but nothing was done and we suspect they might have been “silenced” corruptly by Edgar Kachere.”

Corrupting police officers:

The whistle blower also reveals how Katopola and Kachere has been involved in corrupting police officers after getting involved in accidents with the official vehicles while being driven by
non-employees of the National Assembly.

“Last year Matildah Katopola was involved in a car accident along the Zalewa Road. Edgar Kachere was illegally driving MG 196 AD, Prado which is one of Katopola’s official vehicles. They were two when the accident happened. Knowing that Government would take them to task, Edgar Kachere corruptly obtained a false police report to cover up the fact that he was the one driving the car. A totally different driver was mentioned in the report. The false report was prepared by a Mr
Chalamanda, a Traffic Policeman stationed at Zalewa Road block assisted by a Mr Kalonjere a VIP protection policeman assigned as body guard to Katopola.

The other accident is said to have involved Kachere when he was being driven to Mzuzu to play music with his band mate Ndhlovu.

“ Edgar used his official vehicle, MN 1978 or PAR 7 (he still does but now it is a Prado BP 2813) to travel to Mzuzu but was being driven by his friend… After the accident the car MN 1978 was a wreck and again with the assistance of his driver and Kalonjere, they got a false report.”

Abuse of the recruitment procedures:

“It is important for an administrative audit to be carried out on the recruitment of staff at National Assembly especially from 2010 to date. The following are members of staff that have been irregularly
employed during this period.

(a)Mr Mapemba, Deputy Clerk with a not so clean a record having been arrested on allegations of embezzling funds at Ministry of Health, Mr Mapemba is also an uncle to the Clerk of Parliament . He heads a department that deals with all National Assembly funds as in-charge of Cooperate Services.
(b) MrEdgar Kachere, a lover to Katopola. He did not do well at the interviews. It is Mr Chiza Nyirongo from Law Commission who did fine but was not picked in very dubious circumstances. In turn he brought in a secretary, Mrs Janet Kachika from his Edgar and Davids Law firm. She is now employed by National Assembly and is serving Edgar in his Legal services division. Edgar Kachere has also brought in a “legal clerk and a driver, very close relatives and from Edgar and Davids law
firm in very dubious circumstances.

(c) Most of the staff that have been employed during the past year come from Chiradzulu where Katopola comes from. These are:
i)        R. Mapemba, Deputy Clerk
ii)      D. Kamoto Procurement Officer
iii)     Mrs Chintengo Stores Clerk
iv)     Matildah Namondwe Receptionist turned Stores officer.
v)       Mr Chaona. General Duties Clerk (Fuelling)
vi)     Mr Chiutsi „ Promoted during the same period to OS
vii)    An Electrician
viii)     An Usherrette in COP ‘s office (A direct relation to Katopola)
ix)    Mrs C. Kilimo Personal Assistant to Katopola
(d) Mrs Janet Mswayo whose contract expired a year ago under SADC – PF, has been told to stick around while Katopola is trying to create a post, HIV/ AIDS Coordinator just to accommodate this Mrs Mswayo who is also related to Katopola. This is not allowed in recruitment procedures.

Intention to run away

The whistle blower concluded the submission with a call for government to watch out and move faster on Mr Kachere who he said intends to bolt away of the country.

“I wish to urge the government machinery to move in faster on Kachere since he is suddenly pushing for 2 years unpaid leave to go to Germany for his Masters degree programme after failing to swindle Government on a furniture deal amounting to about K30 Million Kwacha with Capital Furniture.

“The furniture was intended for DPP Whip office, (and offices for) the Ministers of Finance and Justice at National Assembly. The actual cost was K6 million but the quotation on instruction from Kachere and Kamoto went up to K30 million and now is at K22 million. On instruction from the Speaker, the deal was cancelled and the IPC dissolved. A new IPC has since been instituted minus Edgar Kachere. Can the government move faster before he runs away on the pretext of going to school.”

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