Spy machine wars: Kaliati caught in the middle

A New Year same problems, as Malawians continue reeling from the economic malaise, Information Minister Patricia Kaliati is battling to keep her share of a bribe that has characterised the purchase of the “spy machine” which is said to have cost tax payers close to K1 billion.

The Minister who returned to Cabinet on 6th September 2011  is now pissed off with the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) and has  been bad mouthing its Director General Charles Msaliwa and its IT Board Member Richard Chisala accusing them of undermining authority.

It is understood that during the last Cabinet when she was fired in August 2010, Kaliati had engaged a company called GVG to provide components of the CRMS through Okhai but the suppliers were discovered to be middlemen as they registered their address to be Haiti when the country was affected with the earthquake.

Kaliati: Vested iinterest

GVG machine cost around K200 million but it had only one function.

MACRA switched off the deal after Kaliati was fired over her probe on Nyika-Vwaza Consession  -which the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has obtained a warrant of arrest but are failing to excute it -and opted for a complete set in the USA.

Upon return to Cabinet, Kaliati first supported the machine thinking it was still from GVG whom are said to have paid a substantial amount to the Minister as a “thank you” but to her shock MACRA had opted for another company.

MACRA is said to have set aside millions of kwacha as a budget for awareness programme for the machine .

“For the first time since the battle for the spy machine started, sanity returned after Media Committee of Parliament called both sides to parliament and they gave their side of stories. Afterawards the committee has been on fact finding tour,” said a senior DPP official who described the intervention of the committee as very timely and strategic.

But Kaliati was not amused and in mid-December she summoned the MACRA board before Parliamentary committee without her approval, saying the committee is below her.

“It is strange that the Minister thinks Parliament is below her, yet the body provides oversight and represents the people directly. She should be thanking the committee for clearing the mess she had added to the DPP administration as her approach raised questions why Government was in a hurry to have the machine and Malawians to trust her,” said another independent expert from the IT sector.

The Minister of Information is no longer better placed to clear the mess as she is right in the middle of the whole saga with recent reports indicating she has turned to Airtel for financial support promising to stop the machine.

After accusing the company of being thieves and threatening to revoke their license Kaliati in November shocked everybody by appearing at the final draw of Migolomigolo by Airtel where she praised  to the sky.

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