MACRA staff over alleged abuse of procurement of digital production equipment for MUBAS worth K400m 

Malawi Fiscal Police are reported to have arrested five officials, who are Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) members of staff — existing and those who left — over alleged abuse of procurement of digital content production equipment which MACRA donated to Malawi University of Business & Applied Sciences (MUBAS) in December last year.

The equipment that was unveiled included drones, cameras, computers, content servers, studio sound proof and all studio accessories but its cost of K400 million raised some eyebrows.

Part of the alleged old fashioned equipment that was unveiled

Our sources in the police service, confirmed the development, revealing that the officials arrested in connection to the controversial procurement include acting director of finance, Elvin Mwapasa; procurement officials Grace Kaphale, Ben Chitsonga and a Makobidi as well as Director of Broadcasting, Fergus Lipenga.

MACRA could not confirm the development nor divulge more information, saying the matter is in full hands of the police but media reports indicated in December that the cost of procurement came under heavy criticism with some experts saying they were old fashioned and not worth K400 million.

MACRA intended that the equipment was to improve content production but some experts in the country’s filming industry observed that the equipment was outdated and that does not match the cost.

A Facebook post in December by Film Association of Malawi (FAMA) president, Gift ’Sukez’ Sukali indicated that the ‘old fashioned’ cameras cannot even have its lenses changed, arguing that the K400 million could have bought almost 40 state-of-the-art cameras which are recognised by international content acquisition companies.

Sukali also argued that MACRA procurement team should have engaged some experts in the film industry who are fully conversant in such equipment.

While congratulating MACRA for the positive mind to invest in the film industry, Sukali said “as the world is advancing technologically, investing in old school cameras like these ones just shows how we are not prepared for the future.

“These cameras are not future proof,” he added. “In 2022/2023, we can’t be using camcorders which we can not even change lenses. Involving young generation and experienced people to help identify latest cameras and equipment would have been better.

“We have the likes of Essim, who is one of greatest DOP, Shemu Joyah who is one of the best directors, Peter Mazunda with extensive experience in cameras, Khama Mbaula just to mention a few.

“With the amount mentioned, you could buy not less than 40 Komodo RED Cameras, Black Magic, Sony FX6 , ARRI or advance 2022/2023 cameras — which are cameras accepted by international content acquisition companies like Netflix,” he noted.

Our impeccable sources privy to the matter alluded that the wheels were rolled to investigate the procurement process which the industry experts cast their doubts on over the huge cost that did not match the equipment that was unveiled.

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