Speaker mum on Katopola’s interdiction

Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola has not yet been interdicted one month after police arrested her on charges of abuse of office and failure to declare conflict of interest.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) chaired by National Assembly Speaker, Henry Chimunthu Banda, is mandated with  sanctioning the Clerk of Parliament on serious breaches of discipline of this nature.

However, commentators have said Chimunthu Banda has been plagued by such indecision that he can’t imagine interdicting the National Assembly secretariat boss, with whom widespread knowledge claim the political head is complicit in a fair share of yet-to-be disclosed criminal offences to do with procurement.

Chimunthu-Banda: Inaction

The world is watching at the unfolding drama on the long overdue interdiction while a conundrum of hesitation continues to haunt the Speaker of Parliament and his team of five lieutenants in the PSC.

Meantime,  Katopola, on Tuesday entered a ‘not-guilty’  at Lilongwe Magistrate Court to two charges of abuse of office and failure to declare interest in awarding of K87 000 (about $343) contract to her Monik Trends firm in September 2007 – a matter that saw her being shielded by the then president the late Bingu wa Mutharika despite being found at fault by PSC.

She was sent on forced leave in May 21, 2012 after PSC penned the President recommending her removal.

President Joyce Banda has rejected the recent recommendation by the Parliamentary Service Commission to fire Katopola as Clerk of Parliament on grounds that procedures were not followed.

Katopola has viewed her removal as politically motivated and a real kick in the teeth after all the work she has done at the country’s legislature.

She is on record to have expressed her fears that Vice-President Khumbo Kachali and Chief Secretary Bright Msaka machinated the PSC chair to remove her.

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.

Had Banda sacked Katopola, taxpayers would have ended up paying a whopping K900 million (about $3.6 million) in compensation because she is due for retirement in 2030 when she will be 60.

At the moment the PSC has called Katopola back to office.

It remains to be seen if Katopola will resume work at a station that is presently riddled with unpredictable political volatility following her record of plunder and iron grip on power during the Mutharika administration.

The late president Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Katopola as the first female Clerk of Parliament in 2005.

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