Government has stopped paying embattled Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Matilda Katopola the salary she was receiving while on leave and interdiction for over two years. Figures show that she could go home with about K423 million (US$846 000) in compensation.
So far, government has paid Katopola an estimated K17 million (US$34,000) between June 2012 and October 2014, which was soon after a successful court case in which she sued government for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and unfair labour practice under the administration of immediate past president Joyce Banda.
Acting CoP Roosevelt Gondwe revealed the salary payments to Katopola and their stoppage on Wednesday when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Lilongwe in response to Treasury minutes on the report of the committee following its consideration of the Auditor General’s report for the years ended 2005, 2006 and 2007.
At the time she was sent on forced leave in May 2012 pending termination of her services, Katopola was getting a monthly salary of K736 752 plus benefits, according to a document we have seen.
Her other benefits included an institutional vehicle, fuel and school fees for her children.
She continued to get this salary until she was interdicted on half pay in June 2013. According to a salary computation that Parliament worked out for her, it was estimated that her salary would adjust to K810 427 then K891 469.92 in 2013 in line with government circular increments, which were implemented every December.
After she was interdicted, Katopola has received from government half her salary of about K405 200 until January this year when it was supposed to be K450 250 following the December 2013 adjustment.
In the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), Katopola was demanding as compensation for her grievances a CoP salary from May 2012 up to May 2030 when she would reach her retirement age of 60.
According to the National Assembly salary computation document for Katopola covering 2012-2030 that we have seen, she is ideally supposed to get K423.3 million—which, if implemented, means there will, technically, be two people drawing CoP salaries whether she is paid a lump sum or the money gets staggered over the 18-year period.
However, senior State advocate Apoche Itimu, in a written response to a questionnaire yesterday, said the IRC is yet to come up with a final figure for Katopola’s compensation.
“It [the compensation] was scheduled for assessment, which was adjourned. [We] are waiting for a new date,” said Itimu, who is also spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice.
Itimu, however, said the State has filed a notice of appeal.
Information we have gathered also show that the State has since obtained a stay order stopping the assessment pending an appeal on the IRC order.
Meanwhile, in response to a question from Zomba Chingale Member of Parliament (MP) Wallace Chawawa on whether he has failed to act on certain administrative matters because he was yet to be confirmed, Gondwe said that was not possible because the Department of Human Resource Management and Development would record that there were two CoPs.
He complained that his acting capacity, as a result of the shadow of the “former” CoP, had psychologically impacted on his influence on the Parliament staff because there was no guaranteed permanence.
Since her appointment in 2005 by former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika as the first female CoP, Katopola had faced pressure from some MPs to leave office.
Sources say she became unpopular among the legislators for reportedly introducing strict financial controls.
She has faced criminal charges relating to the K87 000 (US$174) tender award to her personal company, Monick Trends, for printing and binding services.