Malawi court rules in favour of ‘spy machine’

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Malawi has given the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) a go ahead to use the Consolidated ICT Management System (Cirms), commonly known among Malawians as the spy machine.

The use of the machine was suspended after two Malawian ‘concerned’ citizens  Hophmally Makande and Eric Sabwera sued the MACRA not to use the so-called spy machine arguing it will infringe on consumers’ privacy.

Macra boss Kumbatira: Not for spying

Macra boss Kumbatira: Not for spying

They were among many Malawians including telecommunication operators who feared the Machine which is capable to monitor any form of conversation among or between telephone users would be used to spy on the subscribers.

The Telecommunication operators also argued that using the call tracking equipment is a violation of users of their services and will compromise obligation and duty they have to their subscribers.

They cited Section 21 sub section c of the Malawi Constitution which states that ‘Every person shall have the right to personal privacy, which shall include the right not to be subject to interference with private communications including mail and all forms of telecommunications.’

The Malawi High Court had earlier ruled in favour of the concerned citizens a development that forced MACRA took the matter to the court of appeal.

MACRA CEO Andrew Kumbatira told journalist on Monday in Blantyre after the ruling that “the system is not meant for spying, but to improve service delivery among communication companies.”

“We have no issues with telephone operators over the matter but the problem was the two concerned citizens who blocked the roll out of the machines,” Kumbatira said.

MACRA had earlier argued that the machine was meant to sanitize the operations of the telephone operators it alleged have long been ripping off subscribers in the absence of the machines It also argued that machine was designed to prevent telecoms customers from being overcharged.

MACRA bought the Cirms from a US-based company, Agilis International, at a cost of $6.8 million.

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This was long overdue. Actually Britain, USA and all these developed countries use these tools in their regulatory agencies. The problem here are these operators mostly Indians who are used to reaping Malawi off . They managed to hoodwink some greedy lawyers and politicians to create a false story about spying when it checks and verifies telecommunications traffic and hence revenue. All along the operators declare their traffic without us verifying and government has lost millions in tax revenues. Trick yake ndi imene amafuna kugwiritsa ntchito ku MRA, fortunately it has failed. Praise God for this ruling. Zikuoneka kuti mbava… Read more »

I totally agree with this judgement for 3 reasons.Thieves,robbers will be exposed and reduced.Secondly,phone operators will stop stealing from the public.Thirdly, it will bring discipline among phone users.Maphias use good law as shield for their evil dids.Am 100% sure that those who are against this judgement are maphias.They simply use freedom of privacy as the shield.We good people will stand and fight you to the very end.This the war betwwen good people and evil people.Do KNOW you that robbers who terrorising people are using phones.OPEN YOU EYES AND SEE.


even mozambique do register the sim card and it is very safe, macra go a head the system is good. also mlw government should introduce the system of I.Ds for the system to work perfectly


The politician who rushed to broke the usage of CIRMS,might raise suspicion taking into consideration the outburst raised by his party rascals about hacked partyelectoral handset.At the same time one may conclude that,the late former head of state was acting within stipulations of Malawian constitution by authorising procurement of the CIRMS as supreme court has vindicate him,2yr after his death.

Baba wa Boyi
Malawians are very dull, to the point of stupidity. The Machine you call spy machine, is amachine that is used to calculate how much providers like Airtel owe to the country. If you call say USA, you will be using transmitters in different countries, and Malawi pays for those servises Visa versa. So this machine calculates accuratelly haw much is owed to whom. As of now Airtel and others are sitting on huge amounts which should by right go to the state. Why do you think there are competions by airtel giving millions as prises, sponsoring this and that. It… Read more »
Arthur G.M. Mtambo



MACRA can you please as a matter of urgency sue the two people Makande and Sabwera for loss of business.


Thank you for the supreme court ruling on the spy machine,now we are going the collect was only yesterday when talked about this on the clement stambuli contributions regarding internet charges,yes check macra for us if these charges are collect,put a press release before we bust.


a welcome development,they are doing daylight robbery to us,see the recent development airtel has done to us which forced us to dump them.we will be back if their sanity is okey otherwise SORRY!!


Can MACRA please ask Malawians to register their phone lines. We really need to jaxk up our intelligent system. This system of buying simcards at will and anywhere is not good. It does no reflect our seriousness to deal with issues of security and terrorism. Please MACRA this should be considered.


I support ur idea. Many countries dont buy sim cards like here in malawi where one can just drop and buy at a market. Thats insecurity at its best. We need to be registered, use our IDs like licence, passports etc inorder to get a sim card. We are not secured at all here. MACRA go ahead using that machine, its our own safety. So mutani nayeno the fired CEO popeza it was because of this issue?

Mtumiki Woyamba

Great idea but the major setback would be identification. Malawi doesn’t have national IDs so what would we use? Only a very small fraction of Malawians have passports/ drivers licenses. Voter cards? How many registered to vote & how many still keep their cards?

Firstly we need to put our house in order & have national IDs. I hear ajawa anadya ndalama zake & the project stalled.

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