MACRA’s Nsaliwa deals exposed: ‘Abuse of office’

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) Director General Charles Nsaliwa used his position to employ his daughter as a research assistant and paid her a cool K360, 000 for a research whose results have not been presented to Macra.

The expose is contained in a dossier which insiders have presented to the new board of directors for Macra and Fiscal Police for their action.

Head of Criminal Investigations Department in Malawi Police Service (MPS) Bob Mtekama confirmed that they are investigating issues raised in the dossier.

Nsaliwa: MACRA boss faces abuse of office charges

Reads the dossier: “In or around April, 2010, the Director General of MACRA instructed the economist, the late Alfred Nakhwema, to conduct a survey. He was instructed to hire students from university of Malawi as his assistants. Among the students, was the daughter of the DG, a Ms Tadala Nsaliwa, who was then a student at Chancellor College.”

“Before commencing the study, Mr. Nakhwema presented the list of his assistants to the DG who authorized that the assistants, including his daughter, be hired. The DG endorsed his authorization. The said students, including his daughter, were paid by MACRA the sum of MK360,000 for the study. Results of the research have not been seen which means the findings, if any, cannot be of any value to the Authority,” reads the document in part.

“This is a serious offence of ‘abuse of office’. The DG did not disclose to the Board, as his superior, of his interest. He did not recuse himself from dealing with this matter or from authorizing the list or authorizing payment. He therefore failed to disclose his interest, acted in an unprofessional manner by not recusing himself  and also gave undue pressure to his subordinate (Mr. Nakhwema),” reads part of the dossier.

The whistleblowers also noted that government has in the past acted in similar cases of abuse of office citing the case of former cabinet minister Yusuf Mwawa who used government funds to pay for his wedding. Mwawa was successfully prosecuted and convicted.

Nsaliwa is also said to have awarded a consultancy to a long time pal, Patrick Albert Chikumba of the Polytechnic paying him K348,000 in the process.

“The DG of MACRA awarded a lucrative contract to his long time friend, a Mr. Patrick Albert Chikumba of the Polytechnic from 30th April 2010 without following procurement procedures but by just instructing his finance director,” reads the dossier in part.

“The work was to do a study on Utilization of ICTs Multi-purpose Community Tele-centres in Rural Malawi: Challenges and Opportunities. A payment of MK348, 000.00 was effected on 20th May,2010,” adds the dossier.

“The DG did not disclose to the Board his close past dealings and association with the Mr Chikumba. The consultancy was not openly advertised and competed for as required by the Procurement Act. The said consultancy was actually not done at all as no results have been submitted to MACRA of the study up to now,” reads part of the dossier.

Dubious procurement

Nsaliwa is also accused of being involved in dubious procurement vices.

“A Lilongwe based businessman, Dean Ng’oma, who has a brief case company called Skywaves, is a close associate of the DG. He has been awarded hugecontracts beyond his capacity. All major procurement contracts at MACRA have been awarded to him or to companies where he has acted as middle man,” reads part of the dossier.

The dossier says “Ng’oma was a middle man in a deal where Macra bought the infamous ‘Spy Machine’ and he pocketed about US$400,000.”

Nsaliwa and Ng’oma are said to have been involved in the procurement of broadcasting equipment worth K75 million and also a heavy duty generator worth K40 million which, insiders say, it could have been cheaper it were sourced from well known suppliers like Barloworld.

“These procurements raise suspicions. It is not a coincident. It is also worth noting that the same company that supplied the ‘spy machine’ also supplied the broadcasting equipment, and in both, Mr. Ng’oma, was the middleman. The close relationship between the two and other government officials needs to be investigated,” reads the dossier.

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