Katopola back in court April 22 for criminal Monik Trends firm case

Suspended Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola appears in court on April 22, 2012 in which the State will parade at least seven witnesses in a case in which she is being accused of awarding of K87 000 contracts to her firm, Monick Trends, in 2007.

Disciplinary body Parliamentary Service Commission found her guilty but late president Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned Katopola, who had never been tried in a court of law.

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

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

Katopola: Back in the dock
Katopola: Back in the dock

In the case, she is accused of flouting procedures and not declaring interest when Parliament procured printing and photocopying services from Monik Trends.

According to court documents, Katopola argues that the revival of the case is political, as she was cleared by National Audit Office.

In May last year, without giving reasons, the Parliamentary Service Commission recommended to President Joyce Banda that Katopola be removed from office. The committee also sent her on leave pending the Head of State’s decision.

But in mid-July, Banda refused to sack Katopola, saying the PSC did not follow procedures in recommending her removal.

Soon after the President’s decision, PSC wrote Katopola asking her to return to work.

But Katopola refused to resume her duties until, she argued, the PSC clarified some things.

She then proceeded in July to file a case at the Industrial Relations Court in Lilongwe asking the court to declare her as having been constructively dismissed and that the PSC’s conduct amounted to unfair labour practices.

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