Malawi regulator to terminate ‘spy machine’ deal with US firm Agilis, to hire South Africa’s Global Voice Group – Report

United States (US) firm, Agilis International Inc.,   which supplied the high-tech call tracking system known in the eyes of the public as ‘spy machine’ will have its contract terminated  with Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) which has  opted to hire Global Voice Group of South Africa to implement the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) project.

Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati tours the Broadcasting Monitoring Unit at MACRA in Blantyre - Pic Mayamiko Wallace - MANA
Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati tours the Broadcasting Monitoring Unit at MACRA in Blantyre – Pic Mayamiko Wallace – MANA

Under the contract with Agilis, the authority was supposed to make an outright purchase of the system at a contracted price of $6.9 million (about K4.6 billion) in 2010.

But the regulators’ Board meeting held at Sunbird Ku Chawe in Zomba resolved  to terminate the contract with Agilis, a local paper reported  on Saturday citing minutes of the meeting.

“Management would also like to advise that, in order to protect the Authority’s interests, the Authority should proceed to write Agilis asking for a refund of $6 500 000 paid indicating what amount was paid before 27th November 2015 and the amount that was paid after 27th November 2015 and that a reasonable deadline for such refund should be fourteen (14) days from the date of the letter,” reads part of the minutes as quoted in the press.

The minutes read: ” In the event that Agilis comes up with a set off claim on the 13th March 2015 contract, the Authority will counterclaim for part of the money paid on the previous contract with respect to which there was not full consideration furnished by Agilis in terms of performance.”

The minutes also indicate that Macra management feels Agilis is entitled to set off against the money being refunded to the authority or its expenses incurred by Agilis prior and up to November 27 2015 in the performance of the Cirms contract.

The mobile phone operators obtained a court injunction restraining Macra from implementing the Cirms project. saying it will be used to spy on their customers but the government says it will be used to monitor the quality of services the operators offer to their clients.

Supreme Court held that the use of the Cirms was a lawful limitation to the right to privacy, information and freedom of expression.

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