Among the many promises that the Tonse Alliance made ahead of the 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential elections was reduction of passport fees to K14 000. It is almost two years since the alliance got into power yet a 36 paged passport costs K90 000 while a 48 paged one is at K130 000 making it one of the most expensive in Africa. Will the Tonse Alliance fulfil this promise? SUZGO CHITETE spoke to Minister of Homeland Security Jean Sendeza whose ministry is responsible for passport policies.
Q: When the Attorney General cancelled the passport contract with Techno Brain, one of the issues that came out prominently was the high passport cost. Should we expect a reduction in passport fees as promised during campaign?
A: The answer is yes, the price will be reduced as soon as we get the service provider in place and all necessary processes are underway. As soon as we get the service provider definitely the prices will be reduced, they will not be same.
Q:Will the prices go down to the promised K14 000?
A: We will consider the price when we have the contract in place and after everything is done – that is when we will have the exact amount.
Q: But the promise was K14 000 so why do you have to wait for the contract to determine the fees?
A: Well, what I can promise is that the price will go down but that will be considered once we have a contract in place. The contractual agreement will take on board the price reduction. But for now I cannot state the fees.
Q: When are you expecting the new contract to be in place?
A:You know processes of procurement take some time. What we have done, knowing that this is an emergency issue, is to treat this with the urgency it deserves so that we should have a contractor in place at least by this month. We are aware that if the consumables we are using now are finished without having a new contractor in place,that will be a crisis. So this is why we are moving with speed to have the contractor in place as soon as possible.
Q: Looking around Sadc we find that Malawi’s passport is one of the most expensive. Why is Malawi’s passport so expensive? Have you taken interest to look at this and understand why this has been the case? A:The answer is straight-forward – that is why the contract with Techno Brain was terminated because we realised that our passport was very expensive yet our colleagues in the region were cheap. We terminated the contract so that we have a contract with reduced passport fees.