Katopola seeks K900m compensation, refuses to resume duties-report

Estranged Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Matilda Katopola has snubbed the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC)’s order for her to return to work Instead, she is seeking  clarification from her employer on ‘few things’ including demanding compensation in the region of K900 million

This followed a recommendation the PSC led by its chair,  Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda, made to President Mrs. Joyce Banda that  the CoP be fired from her position. She was subsequently sent on compulsory leave pending the president’s decision on the issue.

However, President Banda refused to fire Katopola citing procedure flaws among the reasons.

According to Saturday’s edition of Weekend Nation, Katopola has refused to adhere to request by the PSC that ordered her to resume work.

Katopola: Refuses to return to work

Constructive dismissal

She has since asked the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) to declare her as having been constructively expelled hence the need to be compensated.

In a letter dated July 19, 2012 to chairperson of PSC Chimunthu Banda, Katopola, according to the paper, has made her position on the matter crystal clear.

“I refer to your letter of July 17, 2012, advising me to resume my duties preferably within a week of receipt of your letter. I wish to sincerely thank you for the invitation although it is clear that your communication is outside the notice period as stipulated in my letter of July 4, 2012.

“You may however, wish to note that there are outstanding issues which remain unclear to me and need your clarification. These are the motive behind the commission’s decision to send me on compulsory leave without a reason or explanation; the commission’s findings following your consultations in respect of the matter in question as stated in your letter; and the commission’s position on the criminal proceedings instituted against me on a matter in respect of which I was previously cleared. The commission is aware that I am under arrest by the police and I wish to know how this reconciles with my resumption of duties,” writes Katopola.

Added she: “In the circumstances, I would like to have a meeting with you as soon as possible and in any event, within the period stipulated in your letter, failure to which I shall consider myself constructively dismissed as earlier stated in my letter and will proceed to seek legal redress.”

According to the paper, Katopola, through her lawyer Yambani Mulemba, filed a case on Thursday at the IRC in Lilongwe where she wants the court to declare her constructively dismissed and that the conduct of the PSC is subject to unfair labour practices.

Seeking K900m compensation

Meanwhile, calculations of the whole labour battle between Katopola on one hand and PSC and Malawi government on the other, show that the country’s first woman CoP could go home K900 million richer in compensation in terms of salaries, benefits, and retirement package calculated up to 2030 when she would have retired.

Katopola hit headlines during the reign of late Bingu Mutharika when she was accused of awarding her company Monik Trends a contract worth K87 000 to supply stationery.

She was fired and later forgiven by Mutharika. Recently, Katopola pleaded not guilty to charges of abuse of office. She also denied  another charge of  failure to disclose interest in awarding of contract contrary to Section 25 (d) 2 (a) of the Penal Code as read together with Section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act.

The charge of abuse of office carries a maximum of three years imprisonment while the second one which is failure to disclose interest in awarding a contract attracts a 12 year prison sentence.

Katopola, the first female CoP in Malawi, is a University of Malawi trained lawyer and comes from Chiradzulu district.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and others have accused the Banda administration of making political decisions that are costly to the nation and described Katopola’s issue as witch-hunting.

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