Malawians processing their passports at the department of Immigration in Blantyre have complained and accused the department of corruption due to the slowness of the process.

Many people Face of Malawi talked to outside the headquarters premises in Blantyre narrated an enduring and frustrating ordeal as they keep waiting for the outcome of their passports for more than the specified period.

The department has three types of passports; ordinary (K15, 100), urgent (K25, 100) and express (K35, 100) with a duration of 21, 5 and 3 days respectively, but One of the frustrated souls, Anert Pearson, a woman based in Lunzu in Blantyre who on 12 May this year registered for an ordinary passport that would enable her to travel and do business in South Africa, is up to now looking over the horizon.

“It has been five months since I applied for my passport but until now I have not collected it. This has cost me the money for my business trip to South Africa as well as part of my business capital since I use transport to come here every week. Right now, I am poorer than I was and no longer boarding a bus when coming here. I just walk even though it is very far away,” complained Pearson.

Pearson further accused the office of corruption claiming some people who registered for an ordinary passport together with her used the back door to obtain their passports before and within the period of 21 days.

“Some other people that I registered with paid K10, 000 while others paid more than that and were given their passports. As for me, I do not have such amount of money to pay these officers that’s why am just waiting for my turn to have my passport. As am talking, I have been told by the officers to check for my passport on 20th November. This is not fair but I will keep on coming until I get my passport even if it takes 20 years,” she fumed.

Responding to the complaints, Chilungamo Kapuluka, Deputy Public Relations Officer (PRO) for Blantyre Immigration office said that the department is not corrupt nor its officers. He however, shifted the blame to the middlemen (commonly known as dobadobas) who he accused of tainting the image of the office by posing as Immigration officers.

“We have so far arrested a number of these people (middle men) including one of our messenger who was also involved in the malpractice. We are still arresting them until our image is corrected. The management is working tirelessly, and our officers are now working day and night to make sure that there is no backlog of cases as well as long queues,” said Kapuluka.

“If passports are delayed it is because we had a technical fault with our printing machine last year, but for now we are trying our best to meet the needs of our customers as soon as we can. I also would like to urge Malawians to stop thinking negatively about our office. They should rather help us minimize corruption by meeting a man in uniform if they want to be helped.”

Approximately, the department of Immigration in Blantyre registers over 5, 000 people a month, the number which is exacerbated by the fact that the department has only one printing machine across the country. Kapuluka said they are working with the ministry responsible to make sure the machines are available in all the three regions of the country.

He added that the department is also minimizing congestion through their online page
(www.immigrationmalawi.gov.mw) where one can download an application form for free.
Malawi is experiencing deep economic challenges after donors withdrew their aid in the previous regime due to massive looting from government coffers, dubbed cashgate, a situation which is forcing many Malawians to seek fortunes outside their country.

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