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National

Consumables shortfall hits Immigration Department again

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CHIPONDE— This is a transition period strategy

By Feston Malekezo & Thomas Kachere

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services does not have enough consumables, barely a month after the department received a consignment of passport books and related materials.

The consumables were part of a consignment that was expected before the termination of the contract with it previous supplier, Techno Brain Limited.

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It was hoped that the new stock would help clear the backlog created after the termination of the contract with Techno Brain last year as well as improve daily production capacity.

However, due to the current shortfall, the department is only receiving applications for 48-page express passports, which cost K180,000. Ordinary passports cost K90,000.

Most of the people who went to apply for ordinary passports at the Northern Region Immigration Department offices yesterday had to be sent back.

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The region’s spokesperson Francis Chitambuli confirmed the development but said he could not shed more light, referring us to their national spokesperson.

“What I know is that we are processing express passports starting from 19 April. As for applications that were made before April 19, they will be cleared after their maturity period ends,” he said.

National Immigration spokesperson Wellington Chiponde Wednesday said the approach of receiving express applications was an interim strategy as the department was waiting for a new supplier.

“This strategy will help us do away with accumulation of passport backlog, at the same time enhancing efficiency and effectiveness. This is a transition period strategy in the issuance of passports and it will only be applied for the specific transition period until we identify a new passport contractor,” he said.

Commenting on the issue of progress made in identifying a new supplier of consumables, Chiponde said processes were at an advanced stage

“We are at a very advanced stage in the process of identifying a new passport contractor but we are also aware that the procurement process of a project of this nature requires input from various stakeholders to ensure value for money. But we are doing everything possible to expedite the whole process,” Chiponde said.

Before the department received the consignment in March, passport printing had been scaled down by 96 percent, costing the government K4 billion in non-tax revenue.

During the crisis, the department was issuing less than 100 passports a day.

In October last year, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda terminated the K47.4 billion passport contract the government signed with Techno Brain in March 2019, saying the deal was marred by irregularities.

Meanwhile, Chiponde has said a good number of Malawians has expressed interest in applying for dual citizenship.

The department introduced dual citizenship services in January this year.

‘‘We conceptualised dual citizenship to give an opportunity to Malawians who are living in the diaspora to make what I may call an effective contribution towards the development of this country.

“These Malawians were coming to Malawi but had lost the citizenship of Malawi, hence they were required to use visas. Currently, with the introduction of dual citizenship services, many people are aware that they can have Malawi citizenship, apart from being citizens of other countries,” Chiponde said.

He said, so far, the approving authority had approved over 28 applications as per precepts of the law.

“This means that we have over 28 Malawians who are considered by law as dual citizens. This is a very positive feedback,” the Immigration Department spokesperson said.

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