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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Katopola back in office

Clerk of Parliament (COP) Matilda Katopola has
finally taken back her office keys on recommendation from Speaker Louis
Chimango, a decision that has divided the Parliamentary Service
Commission (PSC).

Over the weekend, Chimango also wrote Deputy COP Stanislas Chisanu,
advising him to stop acting as COP and hand over all keys to Katopola.

Both Chimango and Chisanu flew out of the country on Sunday but First Deputy Speaker Esther NKhoma confirmed the development.

“I was out but I have seen the letter to Mr Chisanu, that I can confirm,” she said.

She also confirmed that Chisanu handed over all keys to Katopola before he left for China.

Despite collecting the keys on Sunday, Katopola was not in office Monday but she is technically back in her office.

But the development has led to the emergence of two distinct camps in
PSC with one distancing itself from the decision by the Speaker and the
other backing Chimango.

There are six members in PSC including Chimango as chair.

Others are Kizito Ngwembe from Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Ettinor
Koloviko from United Democratic Front (UDF), Loveness Gondwe of
Alliance for Democracy (Aford), and two from Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP) Pisho Nkhwazi and Folger Nyirongo.

In separate interviews, Ngwembe and Koloviko said the decision by the
Speaker was personal while Nyirongo said it was the right position.

Ngwembe said a PSC meeting on Friday resolved not to allow Katopola to come back.

Chimango called the meeting following a court order stopping his office
from implementing a resolution by Parliament to move Katopola.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (OPC) Bright Msaka also
wrote withdrawing his earlier letter sending Katopola on leave pending

Ngwembe said he is not party to Chimango’s communication allowing Katopola to resume work.

“As a commissioner, I do not agree with what the Speaker has done. The
first letter from Mr Msaka was read in the National Assembly, the
second letter should also be read in Parliament,” he demanded.

The MCP legislator for Kasungu South said “if Katopola went to court, then let’s fight in court”.

He claimed Katopola was not wanted by the National Assembly, Business Committee and PSC.

Koloviko of Blantyre North constituency said the commission refused to allow Katopola back.

“We can’t accept corruption at Parliament,” she said.

The fight between Katopola and PSC follows an audit report that
revealed that the COP used her company, Monick Trends, to supply
stationery services to Parliament.

“We have said the COP violated rules of the game. I am not part and
parcel of that letter from the Speaker. We can no longer have trust in
Katopola to handle our documents,” said Koloviko.

She added: “We have done the same to so many other people, why not her?”

But Nyirongo of Mzimba Luwerezi constituency said PSC has no choice because President Bingu wa Mutharika concluded the matter.

“As commissioner Nyirongo, I feel we have no choice, let her come. We
recommended to the head of state and he says no, what do we do?” he

He said PSC powers were limited to recommendations.

“We are not a forum to defy the head of state’s decision.”

Gondwe and Nkhwazi could not be reached on their phones yesterday.

However, it is reported that Gondwe is not party to the decision to bring Katopola back while Nkhwazi is on the other side.

The Business Committee of Parliament was also divided over the issue of
Katopola recently at a meeting, which the government side failed to

The committee comprises leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly.

At some point, PSC recommended to Mutharika to have Katopola fired but the appointing authority pardoned her.

On August 7 this year, Parliament resolved that Katopola be reassigned.

But she obtained a court order restraining authorities from effecting
the resolution, a development PSC seems not ready to accept.

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