BLANTYRE--Outspoken National Bank of Malawi Board Chairman Prof. Mathews Chikaonda Tuesday tore apart the Malawi Communication regulatory Authority (MACRA) accusing it of acting as a political party.
"Recently they bought cloth for a political party and gave 80 million Malawi Kwacha to the Zero-Deficit Budget to bluff the nation [that the ZDB was working]," he said at a ceremony marking the opening of the 7 billion Malawi Kwacha National Bank headquarters in Blantyre. "They should be erecting telephone towers in the remotest of areas instead."
Chikaonda, who is also CEO of Malawi's largest conglomerate Press Corporation Limited and chairs Telekon Networks Malawi Limited (TNM) and Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL), making him politically and financially powerful, said MACRA mints a lot of money but has wrong priorities.
He said phone companies sometimes fail to erect transmission towers in certain rural areas because of lack of customers.
"MACRA must erect these towers," he said. "We could have achieved 100 per cent telephony penetration."
The one-time finance minister , famed for his ten-point plan, also went to town on what has come to be known as the "spy machine".
"MACRA is busy with the 'spy machine' instead of doing its work," he said. "But that’s a dangerous machine, they want to know where you are all the time."
MACRA's acquisition of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management Services/System (CIRMS) caused a lot of uproar in Malawi with fears that government wants to be eavesdropping on conversations. Phone companies in Malawi weighed in on the debate, warning customers with the installation of CIRMS they can no longer guarantee privacy.
But MACRA dismissed the fears, saying the CIRMS machine will ensure quality of service by providers as well as tracking how much money the companies are making.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.