The year 2017 might have been a good one for some. For others, it was full of downfalls, allegations and drama.
Many public offices had their own dose of achievements and moments of shame. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services was in the news for its series of blunders.
The department said, in the same year, that it had learnt with great shock the tendency of some Malawians who are aiding citizens of other countries to enter the country and obtain citizenship.
Central Region Immigration Department spokesperson, Eallack Banda, said Malawians obtain citizenship forms at immigration offices on behalf of other nationals.
He said one Ghanaian national was told by a Malawian residing in South Africa that passports are easily acquired in Malawi by foreign nationals; hence, many foreign nationals decide to come to Malawi to do the same.
In June this year, some immigration officers were arrested for stealing a visa book containing 60 stickers at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre and using it for personal gain.
The visa book was allegedly stolen at the airport’s immigration office by one of the officers in that office.
Blantyre police spokesperson, Elizabeth Divala, confirmed the development, naming five officers as being at the centre of it all.
The visa book comprises three types of visas—including transit visa, which costs about $50 dollars, single entry visa which costs about $75 dollars and multiple entry visa which costs about $150 dollars.
Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services national spokesperson, Joseph Chauwa, said the department had recovered some of the stickers.
Chauwa, however, said he could not comment further as investigations were underway.
The trend did not only concern the general public as top officials were also involved in the passport scam this year.
In March, former minister of Home Affairs, Uladi Mussa, was implicated in a passport scam where he allegedly connived with others in granting citizenship to 50 foreign nationals in 2013 while he was minister of Home Affairs.
Mussa, who was People’s Party (PP) acting president, was taken to police after he appeared before the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) with nearly 100 PP supporters going to Lilongwe Police.
The Salima South Member of Parliament was implicated alongside former Chief Immigration Officer Hudson Mankhwala, who was charged with two counts, including neglect of official duty and abuse of office, after being arrested by the ACB.
Mussa said he was just signing as minister and that the ACB was being used by politicians to frame him.
“That procedure starts at the immigration office before going to the Principal Secretary (PS) PS 1 or PS 2 before reaching the minister,” he said.
It should be recalled that, in 2013, Mussa had demanded an official report from Mankhwala following a passport saga that occurred at Immigration when a Burundian was aided with a passport by an immigration officer who was later transferred to Salima.
Exposed cases indicated that Burundians obtained and used Malawian passports with the help of immigration officers.
At that time, Mussa said he wanted to know the number of people involved in the syndicate, including those who process the passports and those involved in helping Burundians to fly out without going through boarder checks.
“I am not happy. It is not good. People should not abuse our passport. We have to be patriotic,’’ Mussa said.
Now, four years later Musa is in the court accused of having appended his signature to the said irregularities. Musa denies any wrong doing.
“I was just signing as a minister,” Mussa said.
Mussa, now fired as PPs acting president, is yet to see his judgement on the alleged passport saga.
Nevertheless, apart from Musa’s story, issues of passport and visa scams in 2017 were the order of the day.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues