Macra board divided over ‘spy machine’

The Malawi Communications regulatory Authority (Macra) board is divided over the purchase and implementation of the Consolidated ICT regulatory management systems (Cirms) machine otherwise known as the ‘spy machine’.

Some board members have started distancing themselves from the irregularities connected to the purchase of the machine and have since confessed to the minister of information Patricia Kaliati that they were not part and parcel of the procurement of the machine.

One board member, who did not want to be named, said even chairman of the board Ted Nandolo has made his position clear that he should not be involved in the spy machine saga.

Nsaliwa; Desperately pushing for spy machine roll out

“This issue is getting complicated each passing day but there are only two people want this spy machine implemented at a supersonic speed. The Director General Charles Nsaliwa and chairman of the technical committee of the board Richard Chisala are the ones pushing for this and everyone is wondering why do they want this implemented when there are several issues we need to look into especially how this machine was acquired,” said the board member.

Something fishy

He said Nsaliwa and Chisala are in the forefront pushing for the implementation of the machine despite stiff resistance from operators.

“Instead of the board listening to what the operators are saying and indeed scrutinising the whole deal, the Director General and Chisala are engaging selected Members of Parliament to do sensitisation meetings of the machine,” added the board member.

“Our chairman has made it clear that he should not be involved in the issue and would rather call for a meeting where the issue will be reviewed because it looks like Nsaliwa and Chisala are using other top government officials to clash with Kaliati and some of us have noticed this and we don’t want to be part of this confusion,” he added.

According to official documentation from Macra, a south African based form Global Voices Group (GVG) won the tender to supply the Cirms machine but Nsaliwa and Chisala accompanied by four other junior staff visited GVG operations in two African countries before visiting the United States of America where Agilis International, who came number two in the tender, is based.

Soon after their visit, Nsaliwa and Chisala, who by this time was not in the Macra board, recommended that the machine should be bought from Agilis International at a whopping price of US$6.9 million.

The same machine cost Gabon about 1.5 million Euros.

“Most of us (board members) have clarified with the minister of information that we were not involved in the purchase of this machine and we are now wondering why these two (Nsaliwa and Chisala) want this implemented with speed. Something fishy is going on here, these two were the ones who bought this machine and they want all of us involved in this. I think the best way is to stop this and start all over again,” he said.

It was also reported that Macra flouted procedures when they paid an initial payment to Agilis of US$2.028 million when Agilis had not provided a bank guarantee as stipulated in their contract.

Insiders wondered why Macra rushed to pay Agilis the initial amount without following procedures.

Nandolo said in an interview that he had already made his position clear to Kaliati and declined to elaborate further.

“The minister is aware of my position on this issue,” was all Nandolo could say before cutting the line.

Nsaliwa declined to comment saying Nyasa Times has never been fair to him when reporting issues to do with the spy machine.

“You surely are not serious that you want my comment on this. You people have been very biased in your reporting, you have branded me as a corrupt person so no I will not comment on that,” said Nsaliwa.

Chisala challenged that the machine will be implemented “whether Nyasa Times likes it or not”.

Kaliati could not be reached for comment.

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