Andrew Kumbatira has been removed as boss of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) reportedly for being critical to political pressure on bootleg deals and a thorny working relationship with the board of directors, Nyasa Times understands.
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa has confirmed Kumbatira, a former executive director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn, has been redeployed to Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) as post-master general.
In his email communication sent to all Macra employees Wednesday morning, seen by Nyasa Times, Kumbatira wrote: “Dear Team and Friends, this is to inform you that I have been re-assigned back to MPC. I may not get the opportunity to handshake each one of you, but I want to say that it was a real pleasure working with you. My stay has been short, but very fulfilling in many ways and I will always cherish the good times.”
Sources say, Kumbatira ruffled feathers of political authority for his knack of governance in the management of Macra, mostly used by ruling elite to plunder.
Under Kumbatila leadership Macra controversially awarded a mobile telecommunication service provider licence to Lacell Private Limited, which failed in its bid for a similar licence in 2008 as they did not meet the criteria.
The renegotiation process to give licence to Lacell Private Limited was imposed on Macra board by government as Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhuma reportedly ordered Macra to follow government directives to “ re-open licence negotiations with Lacell Private Limited” according to the minutes signed by Macra board chairperson Lisa Makawa.
“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.
In 2008 the Macra board looked at the bids of six companies in an international tender process.
During the bid Milcom scored highly with 90.5 percent, followed by Expresso Telecom Group of Dubai which scored 82 %.
Then VivaCell MTS Consortium from British Virgin Islands scored 81%, Lebanon-based multi-national telecommunication provider Comium Group scored 75%, Lacell of Singapore got 60 % and Forward Ranchers got 60%.
However, despite Lacell linked to Farook Sattar, which uses the brand name Smart Mobile, scoring lowly, the board was being “bulldozed” to allow it roll out its services.
The other cellular network operators in the Southern African country are Airtel Malawi, a subsidiary of Pan-African mobile operator Balti, and TNM, which is owned by Malawian conglomerate Press Corporation.
The two established mobile phone network service providers share a market of over 1, 5-million subscribers, and the Malawi government intends granting further mobile phone network licences in order to increase the number of phone users in the country, which has a 13-million-strong population.
Two other telecommunication operators, G-Mobile and Celcom have failed to roll out.
Celcom has a licence awarded under the terms of dual fixed and mobile telephony provision, which when it was awarded in May 2011 it was required to launch services within 18 months.
The rollout deadline was subsequently postponed twice, with the latest extension due to expire on28 July 2015 ; if Celcom fails to launch its network by that date, then it will face the revocation of its operating licence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :