The Malawi Communications regulatory Authority (Macra) board is divided over the software upgrade of the Consolidated ICT regulatory management systems (Cirms) machine otherwise known as the ‘spy machine’ which will cost US$13, 871.969.
The controversial machine was bought from US firm Agilis International at a whopping price of US$6.9 million four years ago.
During a board meeting this week, Macra members had a heated debate on the matter and rejected to pay for the software upgrade, saying it would only make sense to buy a new machine altogether.
However, former Macra boss Charles Nsaliwa, who was in charge of the regulator when they purchased the machine, is said to be under pressure from State authorities to ensure the decision to pay Agilis International Inc should be rubberstamped by the board.
Economist Andrew Kumbatira is the new Macra boss.
Some members of the board towing the governing party line supported the move but the majority rejected, according to insiders.
“There is powerful hand behind this. They want the money payment to Agilis International Inc to be fast-tracked. This is a new invented cashgate,” said one of the board members (name shielded).
There have been growing fears from the public that the equipment is expected to be snooping people’s phone records and emails but Macra insists the system will put to end different forms of telecommunication fraud including revenue under-declaration by operators.
The court cautioned Macra against abused of the facility.
According to MACRA, the idea to purchase CIRMS came about after consumers in the country complained of poor services, such as calls often being short-lived, while the tariffs announced were not the actual tariffs being charged.
MACRA was failing to verify the tariff fraud charges, even when as a regulator it is their duty is to ensure that there is fairness for both operators and consumers.
Apart from its core duties, the ‘spy machine’ is now being used as “money making” device for those in authority.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :