Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked Board of Directors for the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to launch an investigation into circumstances that culminated into the procurement of Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) alias spy machine.
The procurement took place in 2011 during Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime. The MACRA then bought the machine from Agilis International Inc, a US firm, for a total cost of $22,961,719.
But over 12 years down the line, HRDC thinks there were several significant anomalies in the procurement process and subsequent software upgrades, which warrant a thorough investigation by the Board.
The coalition alleges that it discovered, through a court arbitration award, crucial details regarding the procurement of the CIRMS machine.
“It was revealed that MACRA had paid a staggering sum of $13,891,969 over ten years for software upgrades alone, surpassing the initial procurement cost. Furthermore, an arbitration hearing has ruled in favor of MACRA, ordering Agilis International Inc to refund the full amount due to their failure to meet the contract’s conditions. However, we contend that there are additional irregularities that need to be examined to understand the flawed nature of MACRA’s contract with Agilis International Inc.,” reads a statement issued on Wednesday.
HRDC adds that a cursory internet search reveals that Agilis International Inc lacks a known physical address, online presence, or even a website.
It says such a deficiency is perplexing for a company that claims to be an internationally renowned IT services firm.
“This raises concerns about whether due diligence was adequately conducted for the companies that submitted bids for the provision of the CIRMS machine. We, therefore, urge the Board, in its investigative efforts, to scrutinize the tender documents closely and ascertain whether all guidelines were adhered to during the contract award process. Additionally, we are deeply troubled by MACRA’s decision to continue paying Agilis International Inc a substantial amount of $13,891,969 for software upgrades over a span of more than ten years. This revelation emerged during the arbitration hearing, where it became evident that Agilis International Inc had failed to fulfill three out of the four deliverables stipulated in the contract. It is essential for the HRDC, as well as the entire nation, to understand the rationale behind MACRA’s choice to continue making these significant payments despite the evident breach of contract by Agilis International Inc.,” continues the statement.
HRDC says in light of the aforementioned concerns, it strongly believes that a comprehensive investigation by the Board is necessary to shed light on the circumstances surrounding this contract.
“We hope that through this inquiry, we can obtain clarity regarding the procurement process and address the lingering questions that have arisen. We appreciate your attention to this matter and kindly request that you keep us informed of any progress made in the investigation. Should you require any additional information or assistance from our organization, please do not hesitate to reach out to us,” it concludes.