The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says it has not yet started using Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) machine- also known in the local media as spy machine – four months after the authority got a nod from Supreme Court of Appeal to start using the machine due to contractual matters.
Macra bought the Cirms, which was later popularised as ‘the Spy Machine’ – from a US-based company, Agilis International, at a cost of USD6.8 million and ever since its acquisition in 2010, operators have been protesting its installation claiming it would infringe on the public’s right to privacy.
But on September 15, 2014 , the Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre ruled in favour of MACRA in the case of the state versus MACRA ex parte Hophmally Makande and Erick Sabwera in which the two were against the use of Cirms.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Friday, MACRA’s Communications Officer Clara Mulonya confirmed that the Cirms machine had not started functioning.
“We are sorting out contractual issues with US-based Company Agilis International, the supplier of the machine. As you know there has been a lapse of time since we bought the machine.
“One issue that stands out is the revised contract price. The lapse of time has necessitated changes in both hardware and software.
“Macra expects to finalise all these by end of January before we resume installations,” said Mulonya adding that the regulatory body will soon finalise some issues like the link connections to all operators and upgrade the software since it has been idle from installation,” said Mulonya.
Earlier, Macra’s Director General Andrew Kumbatira trashed claims that the system was a spy machine, arguing it would boost the country’s economy as no operator would cheat levy.
First to endorse the machine were Members of Parliament who described the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) machine as important as it has the capacity to reduce call drops and trace stolen phones