Macra board divided over $13m upgrade on ‘spy machine’: Should poor Malawi pay that?

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.

Macra boss Kumbatira: Spy machine upgrade divided board

Macra boss Kumbatira: Spy machine upgrade divided board

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.

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25 thoughts on “Macra board divided over $13m upgrade on ‘spy machine’: Should poor Malawi pay that?”

  1. MADALA says:



  2. ndadabwa says:

    nchito za manja ako charles nsaliwa zikukutsata. lero usakane m’mesa unapakulapo pogula spy machine iwe

  3. Kulibe kantu says:

    Can I appeal to Nyasa editors to be rejecting such articles or sending them back for more information? This is a rumour. A credible article quotes a source. You cannot have the whole story not quoting anyone.

    Secondly, the media has been misleading people by calling it a spy machine. In fact, it the media that popularized that it is a spy ma machine. Please do a bit a research. If a reporter does not understand how the machine works how will readers understand it?

  4. dadaboma says:

    DPP is using this machine to steal money from govt. In the first place the DPP-led govt was wrong to buy this machine. It would have bought water pumps to pump water from Lake Nyasa and other water bodies to end reliance on erratic rain-fed agriculture. When maize wilts 500 meters away from the lake, does that not make DPP govt think that the spy machine is a poor choice? Between tele-communication and hunger, which one does DPP prioritize? Do people tele-communicate when they have no food to eat? Stupid DPP. Now, if it did not occur to DPP that the spy machine is a poor choice at that time, can they now be jostled into sober thinking by the costly upgrading bill and sell away this machine and concentrate on things that matter most to Malawians? Does the report that Malawi is the poorest country in the world make DPP shiver and strategize how to move out of the shame? The report is just making DPP slumber even more? People that voted for DPP killed Malawi, and they’re accountable for the country’s poverty index.

  5. mangulenje says:

    The author of this article needs to get his/her facts right.
    In the first place Nsaliwa is not PS at the ministry of Information neither does he sit on the board.
    The upgrade is not coming at US$13million but this the price if the system was to be procured today. That is MACRA will be required to pay the difference of US$13million and US$6 million
    The upgrade is not for software alone but for both software and hardware bringing in more functionalities that were not there before including better processing power.

  6. the poorest country in the world says:

    the poorest country in the world

  7. aphiri says:

    The issue here is about money. Buying machine at 6,9million and upgrade at a cost of 13,9million ? Hahahaha. Upgrading kuposa mtengo wogulira.kk DPP mwamaliza za relief mwayamba iyi latest tsopano.kkk

  8. Max Nsani says:

    so, let me understand this. We bought this machine for USD6million and we want to upgrade it at twice the cost of purchase? Are we so stupid as to be this careless with money that we do not seem to have? We just had a massive flood and the most the government could raise was MK1billion, and we have some MK6Billion somewhere to upgrade a machine we bought for MK2.5billion?

    Can we have an a report of what we have gained from this machine so far? Can parliament sit down and discuss, scrutinise and call the MACRA people to explain the benefit of this machine thus far? Whether an upgrade of more than twice how much this machine cost us is justifiable?

    As long as people who procure and deal in these things are accountable to noone, these cashgates, or these gates will be a daily occurrence like in Nigeria. And what is this about theft at the new Reserve bank project in Mzuzu the nation is reporting about? Are you telling me that we cannot do anything now without stealing from it? watani malawi uja? Liri kuti anzanga dziko lija ( anaimba Lucius Banda)


  9. Evidence says:

    While on the same it has come to my attention that some unscrupulous members of the public are conniving with some staff at Airtel/Tnm to produce call logs without the concert of the owner or authority from the court. they are paid some money by these evil minds.

  10. my right to speak! says:

    First ascertain the price for the upgrade!

  11. Bangor says:

    Guys the truth of the matter is information coming through to us is that there is money being exchanged between some characters in the names of Collins Magalasi and Ben Phiri from the provider. This is corruption at its best please ACB probe this matter.

  12. Taweni says:

    As the cost has quadrupled within four years prudence should warn us whether to commit or to discontinue. Much as I know Malawi’s economic levels I wonder if the business justifies investing. How much hard currency does the system generate? We must be careful to venture into the domain of huge economies such as America and other developed countries. Perhaps some of us do not realize that we are a poor nation always deficient of the hard currencies.

    Please let us shelve this expenditure.


  13. Bongo loll says:

    Tamva kale kuti a Magalasi ndi Ben Phiri anakatenga ndalama zina pa nkhani ya CIMSyi. Anti corruption Bureau

  14. Gogo says:

    There must be checks in operation of any systemhThe machine is a must for our country those opposing its installation arethieves

  15. chidumayo says:

    Just wasting money. RSA have it but crime is still high, what is the benefit of having it then? Poor Malawian will not benefit from that machine.
    Anthu ambiri azamangwidwa makamaka nthawi ya campaign mavoti akayandikira. Makina amenewa azabweretsa udani kwambiri. Gulitsani ndalama zikathandizire anthu omwe katundu wawo anapita kamba kosefukira kwa madzi. Chilibe ntchito chi spaying machine.

  16. Masoambeta says:

    Malawi has better priorities than a spy machine. It does not take a fool to see how shambolic the public services are performing.
    13 million would do a good upgrade to ESCOM machinery. Educational institutions are gagging for funds let alone hospitals. Telecoms infrastructure is in 18th century with exorbitant prices.
    Who needs a spy machine?? This place is being run by incapable and selfish men and women. Poverty starts from brains and is escalated by goons like these being in power.
    People will get fed up of being taken granted and things will run amock. I had the premonition that this DPP government would alleviate deep rooted systematic deficiencies but it is a continuation of wrong priorities and personal greed. Matako anu inu a MACRA.

  17. Moya says:

    So far what benefits have we gained from the machine? What difference in tarrifs revenue has it brought compared to before its commissioning? This is important even before we talk of upgrades. This nsaliwa guy I believe he is a pain to the nation thru macra, remove him from the board completely like u do with other boards. Cost benefit analysis should be clear here. We seem to be spending more and bringing less in with the machine.

  18. Zebe says:

    Sad good things for Malawi are always met with resistance. I don’t know we shall move an inch closure to the new century

  19. The foolish Lomwes at it again

  20. DAMBA says:

    This machine is now being used by criminals in Govt to siphon money from MACRA into their pockets. Was this machine bought through tender? DPP, who bought the machine, are back in Govt and want to continue from where they stopped. What kind of software upgrade would cost USD 13M when the origin purchase was USD 6.9M?

    At this rate Malawi will remain poor. There is no patriotism but self enrichment basi. We go to work and spend time scheming on how to steal rather than progress our country. That machine is a sunk cost and as a true Malawian, let us throw it away and not spend any cent on it. The USD 13M (MK6BN), can go a long way to buy drugs for hospitals.

  21. Zozoro says:

    Who is the chair of macra board coz the board was not reappointed

  22. Abiti Mangarita says:

    Only Malawi is a primitve, backward and lost country whose citizens do not see the importance of having a spy machine. very sad. On the other hand those incharge take advantage of poor Malawians whose majority cannot read and write. Very sad . Its an open secret that the real price of this machine is way far below this amount we are told here, they pocketed the difference, Very sad. But consider our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of floods.

  23. Patriot says:

    The Citizens of the Most Poorest Country in the World say NO

  24. Moses Kita says:

    We cannot deny that fact most of the crime is committed through the use of technology. As such the state should use any tool necessary to combat crime. we cannot pretend in the name of right to privacy while the crimes statics continue to rise. Putting into use the spy machine will make our country much safer to organised crimes. Why would one get worried if he or she is not a criminal. All the super powers including US, Britain and South Africa have spying stools that enable them to fight organised crimes.

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