Criminal Syndicate: Techno Brain threatens to disrupt Malawi passport system – Nyasa Times

A criminal syndicate busted led by Techno Brain, the company whose US$60.8 million (about K50 billion) contract to supply 800,000 Malawi electronic passports was terminated by the government last month, threatens of a likely disruption to the country’s passport system as a result of it being prohibited from accessing infrastructure necessary to carry out scheduled maintenance procedures.

A statement from the company, that touts itself as “a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting”, maintains its innocence from Malawi Government justification in cancelling the contract and is challenging through legal means.

The Government cancelled Techno Brain’s contract to provide e-passports and to undertake a comprehensive upgrade to the country’s entire passport issuance system on grounds that the company strongly disputes.

Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda cancelled Techno Brain contract

Techno Brain says under the contract agreed in 2019, it was responsible for creating the country’s new passport infrastructure, with plans to develop capacity to maintain and operate the system over time — including training and capacity building for over 125 Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services (DICS) officers.

“However, these plans were cut short when the Government suddenly announced the cancellation of the contract in December 2021,” says the statement.

“Techno Brain wishes to inform the public ahead of time that, as it is currently prohibited by the Government from accessing its infrastructure, it is regrettably unable to conduct scheduled maintenance procedures that are upcoming on 20 January 2022.

“Failure to perform these procedures is expected to result in disruption and potentially a full system shut down.”

Prakash Naidu – Techno Brian Technical Specialist in Lilongwe

In addition to jeopardising the passport issuance system by denying access to Techno Brain to critical infrastructure, one of company’s Technical Specialist engineers, Prakash Naidu, has been placed under illegal house arrest without charge since Saturday, January 8, after six officers from the DICS arrived at the company guesthouse in Lilongwe.

“The DICS insists that Mr Naidu — an expatriate technical engineer who had remained in-country to ensure that the passport issuance system remained functional — will remain detained until Techno Brain agrees to hand over all infrastructure under the unilaterally-terminated contract.

“A writ of habeas corpus challenging the detention as illegal has been filed with the High Court and the company is calling for his immediate release.

Furthermore, concerns at the unlawful detention of Prakash Naidu have been raised with international human rights organizations.”

The company further says Attorney General Thabo Chakhaka-Nyirenda’s justifications for this “unlawful detention further exhibit a remarkable departure from basic rule of law norms”.

“Techno Brain maintains that the contract is the product of a competitive bidding process that followed all the relevant procurement regulations, and that its resumption would result in a win-win situation for all parties.

“The full implementation of the system was expected to deliver substantial efficiency gains, both for the Government of Malawi and for citizens that will no longer have to travel to Lilongwe or Blantyre to apply for a passport, as well as critical security benefits in terms of reducing incidents of forgery and identity theft.”

Techno Brain maintains that it is an African-born country which has “a strong track record of operating in Malawi to date and employs a number of local staff to operate the system”.

“It is proud of the strong role it …….


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