Despite promises by the Immigration Department that 21 days is the maximum period one can wait to have their new passport, some applicants are still waiting for as long as one year.
During a visit to the Immigration offices in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, last Tuesday, The Nation spoke to some of the people waiting for their passports, including Chikondi Ndalama from Zomba.
Ndalama said he, together with his three friends, paid for the new passport in April 2012 and that the four are yet to have their passports.
Another applicant, Saulos Kaulanda from Rumphi, said he has been visiting the Immigration offices for over five years and has not seen any changes regarding improvement in the number of days to process passport applications.
Said Kaulanda: “It is always the same. Priority goes to foreigners rather than Malawians. These people [immigration officers] also do not have enough resources, including staff, as they sometimes tell us to wait for general receipts and there are usually few staff serving people standing in long queues.”
He also alleged corruption among immigration officers.
But Immigration Department public relations officer based in Lilongwe, Ealack Banda, said the problems being faced by the people are due to unavailability of resources, including stationery that affected the department for some time.
Said Banda: “We will not be faced with this problem [again] as last month we received booklets and other stationery we needed.”
Reacting to allegations of corruption among immigration officers, Banda said such perceptions were bound to exist for a public office providing the kind of service the Immigration Department does.
In 2010, the Immigration Department raised the passport fee from K8 000 to K15 000. The department also introduced express processing fees where, for example, one can get a passport processed within a day after paying K35 000 or wait for one week after paying K25 000. The K15 000 minimum cost allows one to get their passport in 21 days.