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Anti-Corruption Bureau asked to probe Macra

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The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been asked to investigate the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) in relation to suspected looting of close to K1 billion.

The allegations highlighted in a letter that Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has written to ACB—which The Daily Times has seen—include the withdraw of K10 million, between January and June 2020, without supporting documents, that is purported to have been shared among the regulator’s managers.

In a letter dated August 11, 2020, HRDC also questions a K750 million ($1 million) payment to a firm known as AGLIS, for the upgrade of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms), commonly known as the spy machine. The machine allegedly did not need any upgrade.

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“It is alleged that the machine is working properly and did not need any upgrade. However, management and AGLIS are suspected to have conspired so that AGLIS would indicate that there was need for an upgrade and were then paid $1 million.

“Subsequently, no upgrade was done and Macra was not repaid the money. It is alleged that the money was shared between some Macra staff members and AGLIS,” reads the letter in part.

HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence confirmed to have penned the letter, saying it was part of the organisation’s whistle-blowing initiative that has seen the reporting to ACB of numerous maladministration conducts that took place during the Democratic Progressive Party-led administration.

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“We have received a number of reports of this nature and we have forwarded them to ACB. Our effort is to recover what was stolen,” he said.

The letter further pointed out some abuses of office that saw Macra management allegedly making payments for activities that had nothing to do with the organisation.

“We have information that Macra was loading K7 million worth of fuel in designated Total [Fuel Station] cards every week. It is alleged that these cards were being used to fuel vehicles belonging to political party functionaries from the DPP,” reads the letter.

Further, HRDC has also asked ACB to investigate allegations that Macra gave DPP a Toyota Hilux Registration Number BS 962. The car was allegedly used by the party for over three years with fuel being provided by Macra.

“Routine and correctional service for this car was also paid for by Macra. We are also informed that Macra is suspected to have paid for a non-existent contract for the supply of calendars worth K135 million,” writes HRDC.

Macra is also suspected to have awarded contracts to Dabble General Suppliers for the supply of laptop computers. HRDC claims that the said company belongs to a Dabble Disi, a relation of former president Peter Mutharika.

It is also alleged that Macra awarded a contract for the supply of 130 computers to Francis Mphepo, who was Mutharika’s Advisor on Political Affairs.

“Macra is suspected to have bought a KIA Sportage BU 5780 and gave it to then-Information Minister Nicholas Dausi. Dausi’s son was involved in an accident while driving the car. Macra paid K1 million to Nunes Panel Beaters for the resultant maintenance.

Communication between HRDC and ACB which we have seen indicates that ACB acknowledged having received the letter from the rights body.

ACB Director-General Reyneck Matemba confirmed to have received the letter saying the Bureau will act on it.

Macra has being pointed before as one of the most abused parastatals where politically-connected individuals flout laws to siphon funds or illicitly use their resources.

Last month, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Gospel Kazako charged that Macra had been funding activities that do not fall under its mandate and that the regulator needed sanitisation.

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