15 March 2018

Malawi: Macra to Hold Emergency Board Meeting - Corruption Probe, Gagging Nyasa Times Top of Agenda

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) board is having an emergency extra ordinary meeting in Lilongwe at a time when investigators are probing corruption, Nyasa Times understands.

The emergency meeting will be held while embattled director general Godfrey Itaye is out of the country accompanied by acting director of legal affairs Dan Chiwoni, who is allegedly behind legalizing doctored documents crucial to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Macra spokeswoman Clara Mwafulirwa confirmed the board was indeed meeting in Lilongwe but said she was not sure of the agenda.

But Nyasa Times sources indicated that the board which will be chaired by Reverend Alex Maulana, its chairperson, will discuss among other issues the corruption investigations into two multi-million kwacha contracts the authority is alleged to have dubiously awarded last year.

On the agenda is also how the authority should gag Nyasa Times following its watchdog role in reporting the contracts in question including a K19 million supply contract Macra reportedly awarded to a business firm owned by a relation to Itaye and another relating to printing of calendars worth K135 million.

Itaye, who is away on other duties, will be represented by Director of Finance Ben Chitsonga while Deputy Director Legal Affairs Ms.Thoko Chimbe will be board secretary.

Sources told Nyasa Times that Itaye had travelled with Chioni to meet suppliers of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) , dubbed 'the spy machine' by its critics, Rovan Bunnet of Agilis International to seal upgrade contractual loose ends, in the face of intensive investigations and a forensic probe at the regulatory body.

Itaye took to Facebook using a Chigoba (pseudo name) Orama Chitimbe to attack Nyasa Times coverage of a series of corruption stories at Macra.

Leading daily The Nation confirmed the ACB was investigating Itaye's award of dubious contracts to his parents in laws.

Since Nyasa Times unearthed the stench of corruption at Macra, Itaye has been dodging interviews with local media houses.

It never rains but pours for Itaye, who is facing jail together with his former board chair Mervis Mangulenje and Dan Chiwoni for being in contempt of court after failing to comply with a court order to allow Deputy Director General Francis Bisika go back to work.

According to The Nation daily newspaper, Justice Jack N'riva gave Macra and the three officials 72 hours to comply with the ruling or be committed to prison.

Bisika's contract was terminated under suspicious circumstances in September last year after the Macra board had rwimmended and approved to renew it.

Through his lawyer Chancy Gondwe, he took the matter to court. Macra is yet to comply with the ruling but Gondwe said he hoped by a government parastatal, it is expected to be exemplary by respecting court orders.

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