Malawi Parliament can’t find a single Katopola stand-in

Two Deputy Clerks of Parliament are, in an unprecedented and a bizarre development, co-acting for beleaguered Clerk of Parliament, Matilda Katopola, who is on forced indefinite leave following her waned trust from the Parliamentary Service Commission.

“It is like an airbus flying without a pilot but only a captain and cabin crew. It is affecting decisions of the legislature. This only confirms the PSC has no trust in both deputies; that is why they have been made to co-act,”  said one expert in human resources development and management at the Capital Hill.

The two deputies are Henry Njolomole responsible for parliamentary services and Reynard Mapemba for corporate services.

Katopola:Parliamentary Service Act gives room for the Deputy Clerk to act on behalf of the Clerk in the case of absence.

But with Katopola’s arrest  in connecting with a 2008 case in which she was accused of mis-procurement of colour printing services for the National Assembly Strategic Plan at the cost of K86 997 – she should be interdicted and a single person chosen to act on her behalf.

She awarded a contract to her private firm Monick Trends  but was at that time protected by the Bingu wa Mutharika administration and the case never saw the light of day.

The two deputies are deemed unfit even to act at the post of the COP as they were instruments that Katopola used to scheme her dissenters and critics of her management style, an observer said.

“Chances are that they two will continue to co-act in the post of the clerk of parliament,” the commentator said.

According to good corporate governance the two deputies must resign too as a matter of principle, an expert has said.

Meanwhile, newspaper report indicates that Katopola has refused to certify and send the bills Parliament has passed to the President unless matters surrounding her compulsory leave are concluded.

According to The Nation, the Speaker on Friday sent to Katopola a memorandum reference NA/SOP/2 containing seven of the passed bills for her certification before forwarding them to the President.

Among the bills is the Appropriation Bill—which when assented to by the President—will allow the just passed K408 billion (about $1.6 billion) budget to become effective.

National Assembly Standing Order 126 reads: “When a bill has been read a third time, it shall be deemed to have been passed and three clean printed copies thereof, certified correct by the Clerk, shall as soon as possible, be submitted to the President.”

And the President is required to assent to the bill within 21 days after the submission by the Clerk.

Katopola’s refusal to certify the bills means that they will not go to the President for her assent so that they become laws, according to the report.

Blantyre-based lawyer and executive director of Justice Link, Justin Dzonzi told the paper that without the President assenting to the bills, they will not become effective laws.

“Unless the issues surrounding my status as COP [Clerk of Parliament] are clarified, I cannot sign. Otherwise, I will be dealing with issues illegally and unconstitutionally. I do not want to be accused of some sort of misconduct as I am on compulsory leave. They should give me my benefits up to retirement age, which is in 2030,” Katopola is quoted by the paper.

Katopola wants are her benefits up to 60 years of age she would have attained in 2030 when she would have retired.

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