The taxpayer will be ordered to pay a US company Agilis International billions for breach of contract after Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) , terminated its contract to to supply and implement the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) – known in the eyes of the public as ‘spy machine’ .
Under the contract with Agilis, the authority was supposed to make an outright purchase of the system at a contracted price of $6.9 million (about K4.6 billion) in 2010.
But the regulators’ Board meeting held at Sunbird Ku Chawe in Zomba resolved to terminate the contract with Agilis, engaging another firm, Global Voice Group of South Africa, to implement the controversial project.
But according to Weekend Nation on July 2, 2016 he decision by Macra was against the legal advise by Attorney General Kelekeni Kaphale.
Attorney General contends in a letter to Itaye that it would be foolhardy for Macra to cancel the deal when the issue is currently in court, according to the paper.
The weekly reports that Kaphale is concerned that government could end up spending billions of tax payers money to compensate Agilis for breach of contract and has threatened that should the termination of the Agilis deal lead to loss of public money, government will sue Macra officials responsible for the fiasco.
Kaphale’s comments are contained in a letter to Macra director general Godfrey Itaye.
“This is to warn that government will not hesitate to sue any public officer that ignores legal advice and ends up exposing government to financial loss by reason of decisions that are successfully challenged by third parties [u2] and over which legal advice was already provided by my office,’’ reads the letter in part dated May 18 2016 and copied to Chief Secretary to the Government.
In the letter, Kaphale draws the Macra’s DG attention to his legal advice against cancellation of the contract with Agilis pending conclusion of litigation.
In an earlier letter dated March 21 2016, Kaphale informed Macra that he has reviewed an opinion sought from legal firm Tembenu, Masumbu and Co. and M Global and agreed that a court order presents a force majeure event for the contract.
He also advised Macra to withhold further payment under the contract until the court rules on the case and inform Agilis about the reason for withholding of the payments.
Attorney General said the matter of Macra seeking a refund had not been communicated to him and that he had not advised on it.
He advised against terminating the contract and added that since roll out of the Agilis contract was facing legal challenges and that the matter was still in court, any award of another Cirms contract to another operator before the legal problems besetting the current rollout would be an exercise in futility as similar legal challenges would arise.
The mobile phone operators obtained a court injunction restraining Macra from implementing the Cirms project, saying it will be used to spy on their customers but the government says it will be used to monitor the quality of services the operators offer to their clients.
Supreme Court held that the use of the Cirms was a lawful limitation to the right to privacy, information and freedom of expression.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :