Malawi govt bulldozed Macra on $13m ‘spy machine’ upgrade: CSOs demand probe

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.

Minister of Information Kondwani Nakhumwa told Macra board of government directives- pic by Roy Nkosi

Minister of Information Kondwani Nakhumwa told Macra board of government directives- pic by Roy Nkosi

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.

Refutal

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.

Investigate

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.

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10 thoughts on “Malawi govt bulldozed Macra on $13m ‘spy machine’ upgrade: CSOs demand probe”

  1. Why are Southerners always associated with theft and shaddy deals. Ziwalo trading komweko, kugulitsa a napweri komweko, kuba mitengo ku Chikangawa komweko. Their faces clearly ooze with corruption and greed plus kupupuluma. Why?

  2. Concerned Parent says:

    the price and the upgrade compared to the benefits to Malawians the answer is……..?

  3. Nkhombokombo says:

    ANankhumwa kupupulumwa! Chirichonse mpange chili ndi mchila chifukwa cha pozi yoti “ndanena” kapena “ndalamula”. Sinthani kaimidwe kanu. Kodi tikumva kuti ena a inu posachedwa a kugwetsani, kodi zilipati?

  4. chikoya says:

    This machine is a ‘must have’ for us. Look at the reduced calling rates now through the discounts, if some of u dont know, it is bcoz of this sipayi mashini. time for duping mwians is over. TNM si iyi, yakanika kukweza calling charges.

  5. arkm says:

    I don’t care whether government has bulldozed this or not. what I care a lot is that the government should try as much as possible to bring in more network providers, I don’t mind even if atakwana hundred. people should be given enough room to choose whatever they need. do you know how much airtel and Tnm hussle from us poor malawians?? these people they damn steal aka day light robbery from us. let the Mobile market be liberalised for us to choose what we want. micheal mtembo is no wiser than any of us and shouldn’t tell us what to do, from gayism to network providers

  6. Mulopwana says:

    Nsanje basi koma nduna akanakhala bwenu bwenu. Munya muona agalu inu. Nankhumwa tiye nazo azinyele amenewa

  7. Malawi is a dog country says:

    Malawi is now a country of dogs because of such ministers. They have messed a lot. APM reshuffle even dissolve. Go even to parastatals & ministries.

  8. xxxx says:

    Go deeper minister of information. Even if you bulldozed or not then what is a problem? At times national issues bulldozed by government machinery do bring good things, Look at Chinese in Malawi. It cost late mapwiya to bulldoze Malawians, now who do not adore the Chinese in Malawi.Yes Nankhumwa bulldoze until you get what is good for Malawi/South.Who is Mtambo to dictate what Malawians want. Ali bii ngati bongololo. Za mkutu. Do we need to hear about Mtambo all the times here in South and Center.

  9. Adgwembellz Mashoshalishe Mbwatalika says:

    Mark of the beast.

  10. Mmalawi says:

    Civil Society shoul also probe the Ministry of Agriculture, kumeneku ma guys aba ndalama kwabasi through ghost workers and ma field allowance claims. Actually gvt officials know this but they are afraid that once this information leaks to the public the ministry will lose donor funding. Probe this fraud inu m,a cso

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