Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kuntiya replaced over Mulanje pirate radio

Malawi's Information and Civic Education Minister Leckford Thotho confirmed of a new Director General at Macra. Pic by Malawi Digest.

By Lucy Liponda

The broadcasting regulator, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has replaced its acting Director General Mike Kuntiya.

The new Director General is Charles Nsaliwa formerly for Malawi Telecommunications Limited.

Information Minister Leckford Thotho confirmed to Malawi Digest on Wednesday the replacement of Kuntiya with a new Director General.

The Minister, however, declained to take any more questions saying; "Mr Nsaliwa is replacing an acting Director General."

However information gathered by Malawi Digest indicates that Kuntiya has been replaced following his decision to award a radio license to a convicted radio pirate operator, Gabriel Kondesi from the mountanious tea growing district of Mulanje.

Kuntiya has been acting Director General for Macra for over one year and our sources say that he was due to be confirmed in his position as Director General for the organization.

However, things turned sour on October 27th this year when Kuntiya without consulting his board of directors and management addressed a press conference where he made a single man’s decision to award the convict an operating license.

During the briefing, Kuntiya, also committed Macra to MK10 million radio station project where Kondesi was going to be one of the directors.

Both Kondesi and his father were present during the press briefing.

However, the news backfired at Kuntiya almost hours later when the Macra board chairperson Thengo Maloya distanced his organization from the pledge and license.

Maloya said the decision to award a convict a license was wrong and that the MK10 million radio project pledge was done by Kuntiya in his personal capacity and not as Macra.

“If it was Macra’s decision, we, as board would have been consulted,” he said.

The Macra board chairperson promised that they were investigating the acting Director General’s conduct and that a decision would follow in few weeks.

Following this promise, the board of director appointed Nsaliwa as Director General.

Although the news was only made public on Wednesday, Nsaliwa’s contract is reported have started on 9th December, 2009.

Meanwhile, a source within Macra has disclosed to Malawi Digest that Mike Kuntiya has gone back to his old job as Director for Telecommunications at Macra.

“They wanted to sack him but he has been saved because he only had his contract renewed in March this year for the next two years so, Macra would have paid him a lot of money,” said the source.

The Standard 7 school drop-out, Gabriel Kondesi was arrested on 14 October, this year for operating a radio station called Pachikweza without a broadcasting license.

Two days later, the Mulanje Magistrate Court fined 21-year-old Kondesi MK50, 000.00 or face 10 months imprisonment with hard labour.

However, two days later, villagers who had benefited from the boy’s creativity together with his parents sold their little property and organized a MK50, 000.00 before freeing the boy from custody.

This is the first time in Malawi that Macra has arrested an individual for operating a pirate radio station in the country.

Before his arrest, Gabriel Kondesi had been operating Pachikweza Radio Station in areas surrounding the boarder areas of Limbuli in Mulanje.

Kondesi used local materials such as car batteries, television aerial, wires and a radio cassette player to operate this illegal radio station for over 3 years.

Two years ago, the boy went to Macra to apply for a radio license but his efforts were frustrated when Macra failed to come back to him despite assurances that supervisory body would come back to him through the Mulanje District Commissioner-Malawi Digest.

1 comment:

  1. Unnecessary decision! How can the whole board be involved in issuing licences? He was the boss, so he did it in his capacity as Acting Director General