Friday, July 19, 2024

Passport Issuance Resumes as Ransom Seekers Walk Away Empty-Handed


Yesterday, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services ceremoniously unveiled a triumph of monumental proportions, heralding the long-awaited restoration of the e-passport issuance system with grandiloquent fanfare.

“The department of Immigration and Citizenship Services wishes to notify the general public that the work of restoring the e-Passport Issue System has been completed.

“This development means that the department’s e-passport issuance services have resumed and printing of passports will start gradually in Lilongwe this week and later on in the other regions,” said the department’s director general Charles Kalumo in a statement.

The press release came late afternoon yesterday amid fears that the agency would waltz past President Lazarus Chakwera’s 21-day deadline on resumption of passport printing

President Chakwera, on February 21 2024, gave the department three weeks to find alternatives to the hacked passport issuance system.

Speaking in Parliament on February 21 2024, President Chakwera admitted that the passport issuance system was hacked and that the anonymous hackers were demanding ransom money from Malawi government.

However, Chakwera vowed that as long as he is the president of this country, he will not allow the government to pay such any ransom to any criminal syndicate.

Said Chakwera: “As long as I am President, the government will never pay the ransom money you have demanded after hacking the system because we are not in the business of appeasing criminals with public money nor are we in the business of negotiating with those who attack our country.

“Secondly, we have opened an investigation to trace and track this hack to its source, and when we find you, you will be brought to justice and there will be no clemency or mercy.”

Directing the passport issuance authority to expedite the tech battle of re-taking full control of the system, the President issued a three weeks ultimatum for the immigration department to take “decisive steps to regain control of the situation”.

In an update statement that the Immigration Department had earlier issued on 4th March, the department expressed hope to recover the system before the expiry of President Lazarus Chakwera’s 21-day ultimatum.

By that time (4th March), only nine days were remaining for the department’s leadership to fix the passport mess or face the chop in line with Chakwera’s earlier warning.

Meanwhile, whilst meeting the deadline the President gave, the Immigration Department has emerged double-sweet news announcing resumption of printing of passports and reduction of passport price for indigenous Malawians.

The ordinary e-passport fee has been taken reduced from the previous K90 000 to K50 000; a proportion to a 55% reduction thereby making Malawians save their hard earned money under the current difficult economic environment.


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