Mzimba West Member of Parliament Harry Mkandawire (People’s Party –PP) has christened the passport racket he exposed in the National Assembly as ‘Passport-gate” and said top government officials are involved hence inaction from law enforcing agencies.
Mkandawire disclosed that a box of 250 blank Malawian passports got lost in December last year.
“I would term it passport-Gate under the watch of the DPP-led government,” said Mkandawire.
“Mr Speaker, Sir, we have all the facts and not some of these fake charges that have been levelled against our leader of PP,” he added, apparently referring to a case in which People’s Party (PP) interim leader Uladi Mussa and former senior assistant chief immigration officer David Kwanjama, among others, are being accused of dubiously issuing passports to undeserving people.
Mussa is alleged to have violated his ministerial powers as well as the Constitution when he allegedly granted Malawi citizenship to over 50 foreigners in 2013 when he was minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
However, Mussa denied the charges levelled against him, saying they are politically motivated.
In Parliament, Mkandawire claimed a top government officials was involved in the missing of the passports.
“Somebody high up, informed the Chief Immigration Officer (Masuko Medi) to receive these passports even though 250 were missing. Now, the big question is why? The whole Chief Immigration Office allowing signing for passports short of one box of 250,” said Mkandawire who disclosed serial numbers of the missing passports as MA 853501 to MA 853750.
Mkandawire said Malawi government should inform that all airports throughout the world that these passports are missing in Malawi, “if at all they were missing.”
He claimed: “The information we have is that somebody within the system is selling these passports as high as K10 million and K12.5 million per passport to Asians. Who knows what these Asians are up to?”
MP for Dowa East Richard Chimwendo Banda (MCP) wondered why government did not issue an alert on the missing of passports.
“Is it in order for a matter of urgent importance like this one, that from September, 2016 up to this date, we have never seen any statement in the newspapers warning Malawians about this, and we are only hearing it because there is a question from an Honourable Member,” wondered Banda.
MP for Zomba Changalume, John Chikalimba (PP) expressed his disappointment over the “passport gate.”
He said: “I am crying for this country. As a son of this country, help me in crying for the betterment of our government, people and ourselves.”
Chikalimba observed that the whole saga started when Chief Immigration Officer was instructed to sign the consignment which contained 200 blank passports instead of 250.
“This man said; 250 passports equal 200 blank passports and this man signed. If this man did not sign this consignment, all these problems would not have been there.
“Now the question is accountability. Is this the way our government departments perform that we order 250 items and then instead we get 200 items and we acknowledge receipt and sign for that consignment? To me, it is not fair,” he said.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia told parliament that government was aware of the syndicate and that she will present to the House a ministerial statement on the matter.
“I would like to repeat that we are very serious about this matter and I would like to tell Members that these passports are not going to be used at all,” said Chiumia.
She disclosed that passport numbers from MA 853501 to 853750 have been declared null and void.
Chiumia said Malawi will be sending officers to South Africa to investigate further.
“We are not going to hide anything and the people who are involved in the malpractice are going to face the law,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mkandawire has proposed that the parliamentary committees on Defence and Security and of Government Assurances— which he chairs—should investigate the matter because the government cannot be trusted with the task “since it seems to be party to the racket”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :