New Macra board raises eyebrows: Kwataine replaces Nandolo

Government has announced new names of board members for the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) raising suspicion that  President  Joyce Banda may not have been told the truth about the composition of the board.

Health rights activist Martha Kwataine is heading the new board where three board members have been retained namely Richard Chisala, Armstrong Kamphoni and Arnold Chipendo is serving a ‘third term’ as a board member.

The other board members include Dr Asiyatu Chiweza, Bettie Pwetekani and Kenneth Mlanga.

A senior government official who did not want to be named confided in Nyasa Timesthat what is surprising is the supersonic speed at which the appointments have been made.

Kwataine: New MACRA board chair

“The government gazette indicates that the expiry of the terms of office for the Macra board members was on August 8, 2012 and on the same day these new ones were appointed. Why the rush? The law does not say there should not be a gap in appointing the new board,” said the official.

He also wondered why the board is full of former ruling DPP sympathisers and wondered whether some ruling PP gurus like Vice President Khumbo Kachali were aware of the appointments.

“If you look at the people who have been retained, you will see that they have been sympathisers of the former regime of the DPP and these were the people who were in the forefront in buying the cloth and printing of campaign materials which Macra paid in millions of kwachas and you say they should continue in the board? Why give Chipendo a third term? Is he a life board member? I thought we would see new faces in this board,” he said.

“But I know that some PP gurus were not aware of these appointments, otherwise I don’t think they would have allowed this to happen,” added the source.

Msaka

Another credible source from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka is behind the new appointments.

“This whole thing is because Msaka wants to be protected especially in the procurement of the Spy Machine. He has made sure that Chisala should be maintained in the board because he is the one who procured the machine from Agilis International in the USA when the winner of the tender was GVG of Cape Town.

“In fact it was Msaka who recommended him to be in the Macra board because he was working in OPC before. Msaka is doing this because he knows his role in the procurement of the machine,” said the OPC source.

He also said the other reason why Msaka hastily put up the Macra board was that it should consist of people who will not have problems in renewing the contract of Macra Director General Charles Nsaliwa which is expiring in December this year.

Nsaliwa has been involved in the acquiring of his official Toyota Prado vehicle worth K12 million for a song at K1 million and has been involved in pocketing illegal telephone allowances amounting to K1.3 million among other vices.

The source alleged that the appointments were done by Msaka and the list was taken to Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu who was told that legally, there should not be any gap after the expiry of the term of office for the former board members.

“I am very sure that even the President was hoodwinked to think that this is the correct list of Macra board members, otherwise it is not making any sense why they rushed in appointing the board,” said the source.

The government official also said he expected to see new faces in the board as those who were there in the past are to blame for the blunders Macra has been making.

“We saw how Macra paid a dividend of K800 million to government to support the zero deficit budget and also how they spent millions of money in buying the DPP cloth and also printing of campaign materials for the DPP worth K300 million. All these were being done when these three board members who have been retained were there. I thought we would see new faces altogether otherwise they will now start buying cloth and printing campaign materials for the new party,” said the source.

Kwataine has replaced Ted Nandolo, a well known sympathiser of the former ruling DPP.

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