Malawi passport challenges to be over soon, enthuses AG Nyirenda  

The Malawi government says the challenges the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services is facing regarding the printing and issuing of passports is just a ‘storm before the calm’, and that  the situation will be comprehensively rectified pretty soon, Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has assured.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services falls under the Ministry of Homeland Security of the Republic of Malawi.
It is mandated to provide quality services to the general public in areas of border control, issuance of travel documents, residential and work permits, Visas and Citizenship to eligible persons.

Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda
The department has been rocked with challenges regarding the availability of passports owing to the cancellation of a US$60.8 million contract with Techno Brain Global to print and supply passports following a legal advice from the Attorney General Nyirenda.
The government is yet to identify a new supplier.
However, in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times on Sunday, February 26, 2023, Chakaka Nyirenda allayed fears of a looming passport crisis saying his department is on top of the issue and that passports will be available  by next month, March 2023.
Nyirenda echoed Kalumo’s  sentiments that the passport challenges the department is experiencing will be a thing of the past soon.
He said termination of the supply contract with Techno Brain Global was necessary because the contract was not in harmony with the spirit of its initial objective, and that it was not beneficial to Malawians.
He added that Government stands to save over 36 billion Kwacha from the contract termination, something he said will ultimately lead to the reduction of the passport price in the medium to long term.
“On paper, this was a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) concept to run for three years but what government ended up having was something else, which included government paying huge sums of money to Techno Brain Global.
“This was wrong and it is the reason why the contract was cancelled to save government huge sums of money,” said Chakaka Nyirenda.
He assured Malawians that the government is frantically working on all fronts to ensure that there is non-stop supply of passports for Malawians.
“Something huge happened last week and soon passports will be readily available for everyone,” he said without elaborating.
Techno Brain Global was awarded a US$60.8 million contract by the then DPP  government in 2019 to supply  800,000 electronic passports  but but the Tonse Alliance Government terminated the contract in  December last year following allegations of corruption.
To bring sanity to the department, President Lazarus Chakwera appointed  Brigadier General Charles Kalumo (retired) in August last year to the position of Director General for the department. He has since enacted some measures aimed at improving the department to make it robust and more responsive to the needs of its customers.
Kalumo was once quoted by the local media saying that as a gentleman with military background, he believes that Immigration being a disciplinary organisation, should lead by example on all disciplinary matters.
He said among other things, immigration officers need to understand the professional and ethical values of integrity in-line of their duty, and that they must avoid indulging in corruption.
He said the department has been going through a transition process to improve efficiency and service delivery across all touch points through which it comes into contact with its  customers and other stakeholders.
“Normally, there is always a bad patch that organizations go through when going through a transition process such as resistance to change by employees and other stakeholders.
“The department is currently going through those paces, but let me assure you that the department is on a good road towards making its operations seamless and responsive to modern day and technologically driven dynamics,” he said.
Among the challenges, the department is trying to put behind is the challenge of mobility to support its daily operations as well as the lack of proper coordinating links with outside stakeholders.
Brigadier General Kalumo said in a separate interview that this is being worked out and that as of now, the department is beginning to enjoy a very good working relationship with its multi-faceted stakeholders for smooth operations.
“There are more projects that are in the pipeline for the department. For example, the E-VISA payment system has been facing some challenges but we are currently engaging Standard Bank to manage the system on behalf of the department in order to reduce the challenges. Signing for this agreement will take place soon,” said Director Kalumo.
He said the department is also implementing other projects including the assessing of various formations countrywide on Border Pass Card (BPC) and Border Management Information System (BMIS) to create seamlessness in crossing borders in that all information will be contained in a central hub for easy access at boarders.
He added that this is the reason why his first assignment when he came to the department was also to build a team of motivated professionals because he knows that it is the only way to ensure that the people at the department are aligned to the  government’s vision of service leadership.

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