Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has become a gold mine for government officials, their cronies and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who are dipping into its coffers with reckless abandon, Nyasa Times can reveal.
During our three month investigation into the financial mismanagement at the communications regulatory authority which collects billions of Malawi Kwacha from communication licenses, we found that there are lies and colluding by senior government officers including some cabinet ministers to fleece millions of tax payers money into their personal pockets.
Nyasa Times will reveal in this investigative piece how K20 million was paid to a relation of a cabinet minister under the disguise of salaries for employees of Macra.
We will also reveal how the Ministry of Information played a cover up to ‘normalise’ the K20 million pay-out which we can reveal was shared amongst four people including the cabinet minister.
Nyasa Times will also expose how the whole Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa lied through his teeth about a 36 seater coaster which was meant to be used in a civic education campaign but ended up being donated to Civo United Football Club. Macra coughed up for the purchase of the Coaster.
There are so many shady deals that we uncovered during our three month investigation, here we go;
K20 million for ‘Macra salaries’
Earlier this year, we reported that Macra paid one Mayeso Chipyoza a cool K20 million which was meant to be a donation to cultural group of Mulhakho wa Ahlomwe in November 2015.
Soon after our expose’ Ministry of Information officials and Macra management which included some board members were running up and down trying to manufacture ‘evidence’ which was meant to ‘normalise’ the pay out.
Our investigation have revealed that the money which was paid to Chipyoza through National Bank transfer did not reach the intended beneficiary, Mulhakho wa Ahlomwe which was holding its annual celebrations on November 8, 2015. Chipyoza was paid the money on November 6, 2015.
Macra finance people described the payment to Chipyoza as ‘salaries’ in their bank transmission instructions which we have seen.
In their ‘wisdom’, Macra and Ministry of Information officials concocted documents to claim that the K20 million payment to Chipyoza was actually for the job he did by erecting billboards.
But they forgot to change the information at the bank, which up until today, shows that the K20 million which was paid to Chipyoza was for Macra salaries.
Now Chipyoza is not an employee of Macra to collect salaries on behalf of his colleagues and indeed as our investigations revealed, Macra salaries does not amount to K20 million in a month for an organization of a head count of more than 80 people.
We also found out that Macra wage bill is in the ranges of around K80 to K95 million a month and not K20 million. We also found out that Macra employees got their salaries on or around 23 to 27th November 2015, they did not get their salaries on November 6, 2015 as the bank transmission report indicates.
After being caught pants down, Macra officials and Ministry of Information officials tried to cover up the blunder by creating memos to ‘normalise’ the payment to Chipyoza.
A letter from the Ministry of Information which we have found out was backdated to November 3, 2015 and was allegedly received by Macra on November 4, 2015.
But when you are doing something which is wrong, you are bound to make stupid mistakes.
That letter has a Macra stump ‘Received’ on November 4, 2015 and surprisingly, on the same letter, there is an instruction, written in ink, from the Deputy Director General John Bisika to Director of Finance Ben Chitsonga to facilitate payment but the date is November 3, 2015, apparently, this letter should have been still at Ministry of Information because Macra only received it the following day if their ‘received stump’ is to be believed.
The letter was requesting Macra to pay Mayeso Chipyoza for some billboards which he had erected 10 billboards at the cost of K20 million ‘depicting ICT Issues’.
“In order to promote Government agenda in ICT as one of its key socio-economic pillars, the Ministry of Information has engaged Mr. Mayeso Chipyoza trading as Pure Standard Service to design, print and mount billboards depicting ICT issues.”
“Our monthly funding has drastically fallen after spending on external travel for officers accompanying the President. As a result, we cannot afford to pay the bill or sustain the project on our own.”
“Pure Standards Service has produced ten (10) Billboards at a cost of K20 million. Please refer to the attached invoice,” reads the letter in part which was signed on behalf of Secretary for Information Justin Saidi.
Again if you are doing things you should not be doing, you make silly and stupid mistakes.
The ‘invoice’ that Pure Standards Services allegedly submitted was far from being true, mathematics wise.
It costs one billboard at K1 million each and somehow the 10 billboards which the company is said to have produced and elected cost K20 million!
Our investigations have revealed that Chipyoza is a close relation to Kondwani Nankhumwa, Minister of Local Government but formerly Minister of Information by the time these deals were being made.
Insiders said Nankhumwa is the one who influenced the appointment of Godfrey Itaye as Director General of Macra who swapped with Postmaster General Andrew Kumbatira at Malawi Post Corporation.
Nyasa Times has it on good authority that the K20 million was shared among Nankhumwa, Chipyoza, Macra Board Chairperson Mervis Mangulenje and Macra Deputy Director General Francis Bisika who authorized the payment.
The 36 Seater Coaster and Station wagon
We have also discovered that Macra paid a staggering K56 million out of its approved budget to buy two vehicles, a station wagon for the ministry of Information and a 36 Seater Coaster for the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
There were also lies involved for Macra to buy the two vehicles which were not budged for in its approved budget.
In a letter dated November 22, 2015, ref no. MICE/CONF/02/10, Secretary for Information Justin Saidi wrote Macra Director General Godfrey Itaye asking his organization to buy the vehicles.
“As you might recall, the Ministry is working with the Department of E-government and the Office of the President and Cabinet on the promotion of ICT in the country.
“The project requires availability of vehicles. As our major institution trusts with support to ICT programmes, I kindly request for your support to procure the two vehicles for the programme as follows; One 36 Seater Coaster to be stationed at the Office of the President and Cabinet and One Station wagon 4X4 to be stationed at the Ministry Headquarters,” reads the letter in part which was received at Macra on December 8, 2015.
Saidi also wrote another letter to Macra on the same day, November 22, 2016 with the same reference number where he was asking Macra to help with printing of 2016 calendars in a bid to sensitize the public on ICT.
“Although government is running literacy programmes among its people in rural areas including provision of Boma Lathu Magazine, the outreach is not adequate to cover the populace…”
“….In a bid to sensitize the masses, the ministry is planning to produce developmental calendars for 2016 which could be distributed freely to the masses so that they are able to read, appreciate and participate in government programmes,” reads the letter in part.
“I therefore request Macra to support the procurement of the 2016 calendars. Detailed costs and designs will be submitted in due course. I look forward to your support,” reads the letter signed by Saidi.
This letter also was received by Macra on December 8, 2015.
On the same day, Itaye wrote his board chairperson, Mervis Mangulenje seeking approval to buy the two vehicles and to fund the calendars.
Mangulenje only approved the procurement of the vehicles and not the calendars, according to the handwritten notes on Itaye’s memo.
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa lied through his teeth when he handed over the 36 Seater Coaster which was meant for the ICT programme to Civo United Football Club.
He told local media that when he received a request from the football club for a Coaster, government made funds available and bought them one.
We can reveal that the Coaster is the same one that Macra bought for the ICT project and we can sadly reveal that the ICT project of which the Coaster was bought for, has failed to take place. It was supposed to commence in January 2016.
Chipyoza not yet done with Macra
Although his relation is no longer minister in charge of Macra, Mayeso Chipyoza is still getting millions of tax-payers money from Macra.
In a letter dated 15 February 2016 to Ministry of Information, Chipyoza is requesting a 60% down payment for President Peter Mutharika’s Billboards in the two airports of Chileka and Kamuzu international.
Insiders said Chipyoza was paid a whopping K33 million for erecting the four billboards in Mzuzu, Zomba, Lilongwe and Blantyre.
“Following our successful completion of printing and mounting of 6×12 metres H.E’s Billboards in the cities of Zomba and Mzuzu each, in the second phase of the project, we therefore write to ask your good office for a consideration of a 60% down payment of the total bid valued,” reads the letter in part.
Inside sources confided with us that as is the norm, an instruction was given to Macra which duly paid the down payment without asking any questions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :