Department of Immigration has said cases of foreigners accessing Malawi passport have reduced since the introduction of new issuance system and new security features to the document.
But it says the document still falls prey to foreigners because it attracts special benefits in other countries.
Immigration Spokesperson Martha Gonondo said with the introduction of the new system which incorporates the biometrics of applicants, only a minimal number of foreigners still dare to find a way of getting the passport.
She however could not tell how many foreigners have so far been arrested with Malawian passports which they illegally acquired and how frequent such incidences happen.
“The cases of foreigners trying to use Malawi passports after the introduction of the new passport issuance system are very isolated cases. As such it is not possible to give the frequency,” she said.
Besides foreigners trying to get the Malawi’s travelling document using fraudulent means, immigration officers have in the past also been implicated in the matter.
Gonondo said cases of fraud have to do with individual character and the department is instilling a spirit of professionalism so that standard operating procedures are strictly followed.
However, there are still complaints from Malawians seeking to process a passport in terms of delays in having the passport produced.
The immigration department pledged in a statement in 2011 that it will now be able to produce normal passports within 21 days after paying K15, 100.
It also announced the introduction of express and urgent passports at K35,100 and K25,100 respectively. The express passport would be produced in two days while the urgent one would be produced in 5 days.
But several passport applicants The BNL Times interviewed at Immigration offices in Blantyre indicated that some have been chasing after their passports for the past six months.
“I strongly believe that the Immigration officers deliberately create a crisis,” said a man from Mzimba who opted for anonymity and is trying to get the travelling booklet to go to South Africa.
“What is so difficult with following what they pledged to do? All they need from us is to give them bribes for a job they are paid by our taxes to do,” he said.
Gonondo conceded there are delays and she attributed them to backlog of unprocessed applications which was created due to the forex shortage which hit the country some time back.
“As you may wish to know the passport booklets are supplied from the United States of America where we must pay in US dollars,” she said without elaborating how the situation will be improved.
She also dismissed the assertion that applicants are benefiting from multiple issuances of passports due to corruption in the department especially when they over stay, especially in South Africa, where their passports are blacklisted.
“As far as the new Passport System is concerned, nobody can get multiple passports because of the finger prints incorporation which matches with the existing data in the system,” she argued.