After Nyasa Times first reported that government has bulldozed Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to authorise payment of US$13, 871.969 to be spent in upgrading the Consolidated ICT regulatory management systems (Cirms) machine otherwise known as the ‘spy machine’, press reports have shown minutes implicating Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa.
The Daily Times has reported citing minutes that indicate the high cost of upgrading the ‘spy machine’ to pay Agilis International Inc of United States of America and also the renegotiation process to give licence to Lacell Private Limited was imposed on Macra board by government.
The controversial machine was bought from Agilis International at a whopping price of US$6.9 in 2010.
Macra will have to pay an extra $7 729 361 (about K3.4 billion).
“The Hon. Minister then informed the Board of two directives from Government that the Board was spposed to work on and decidee the way forward: Directive to Macra to re-open licence negotiations with Lacell Private Limited; Directive to implement Cirms without further delay”, reads the minutes signed by Macra board chairperson Lisa Makawa and Board secretary James Kaphale.
The minutes say Nankhumwa urged the members to discuss the directives and advise Government on the way forward.
“The Board also acknowledged that there is a recent directive on re-opening negotiations with Lacell Private Limited. The Board informed the Hon. Minister that it has approved re-opening of negotiations with Lacell Private Limited considering government’s position on the ossue”, read the minutes.
Nankhumwa confirmed attending Macra board meeting in Lilongwe but rejected claims that he bulldozed the two issues.
“I did not give directives. That is wrong. That agenda came from the Legal Committee of the board. Nobody can bring issues to the plenary without any background. They would make sense if they said I directed the legal committee of the board which also never happened,” Nankhumwa is quoted saying.
Nankhumwa said the leakage of information which is contrary to the oath of the board members take could be coming from members who were not in support of what the majority endorsed after being enticed by him.
Meanwhile, The Nation reported that some civil society organisations (CSOs) want the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate circumstances surrounding the purchase of the ‘spy machine’, after expressing reservations about its price.
Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence, and his counterparts at Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or personally affected by HIV and Aids (Manerela+), Macdonald Sembereka and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Timothy Mtambo, said the NGOs feel numerous allegations about bribery need thorough investigations.
“There are some allegations from some quarters that some members of the government and staff have been bribed to fast-track the upgrading of Cirms. To that end, we call upon the ACB to investigate the matter and also the ODPP [Office of the Director of Public Procurement] to double check the issue of value for money,” reads the statement released on Wednesday and signed by Trapence, Sembereka and Mtambo.
“The money meant for such exercise would be best utilised for more urgent and pressing matters like the purchase of drugs in our public hospitals,” said the statement in part.
During a board meeting that took place on February 25,2015 at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, board members also expressed dissatisfaction with the price.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :