Public service delivery facing unprecedented woes

At the start of the year 2024, Malawians have had a rude awakening in service delivery in crucial public service providers which dominantly include the immigration department. This report, presents the state of drama in which Malawi can no longer print passports, and faced with continued disparities in public service like grain trader Admarc.

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Malawi has now plunged into a situation that commentators are branding as a state of disarray as the department of Immigration has not been able to print passports, with crucial state agencies like grain trader Admarc also falling off their operations.

The passport situation has come from the start of the year when Malawi Immigration Department admitted it is currently unable to issue passports due to technical challenges.

But the situation has now gone off hands, with people failing not just to renew their passports, but also not being able to issue fresh applications as it were.

The immigration department has not been operational.

One of the applicants in Blantyre, could not hold her disbelief when she learnt that her details for an application to an expired passport were ‘not handy’.

‘’ I have taken so many days to conclude all due processes. The officers have blatantly said to me that they will say when all issues are resolved. I am so worried because I cannot travel to South Africa for my business endeavors.

Now, the latest situation has come in the wake of the decision by government to cancel a 60 Million Us Dollar contract with Techno Brain Global FZE which was tasked to supply of 800,000 passports.

Interestingly, President Lazarus Chakwera told the nation in parliament earlier last month that the system had been overtaken by hackers demanding an undisclosed payment, claims that Techno Brain has denied any links to.

Chakwera: We will give in.

“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,” Chakwera said.

But, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma minister of Homeland security insists the matter is being treated with utmost attention saying faintly that the matter is under as we quote him ‘under control’.

‘’I have made so many assurances to you the media. You know better that we are working around the clock to address the entire challenge we have. This is a problem we must solve,’’ he said.

In the ongoing impasse, the Information, Communication and Technology Association of Malawi an umbrella body of all ICT professionals in Malawi has written the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services to offer technical expertise that will culminate in the recovery of the passport printing system.

According to, Clarence Gama president for ICTAM there remains a wait into the government allowing them carryout the exercise.

‘’ We have communicate to them on our ability to assist. We have kept the door open to help the nation,’’ said Gama.

But, another applicant who seeks to be referred to as Mayamiko says, he has been failing to even apply for a new passport.

‘’ I will have to join by all means the demonstrations that are being planned. We are wasting so many resources as if printing passports is a private service,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, the civil society has taken the government to task over the situation.

Namiwa people will keep feeling the pinch.

For instance, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives is due to lead nationwide demonstrations over the situation which in his view signals failed leadership as explains Sylvester Namiwa.

‘’Our view in all this is that government has failed. And that is why we are mobilizing to hold the vigils. Order must come back to the public service systems,’’ says in an interview with MIJ Online.

As if this is not enough, Malawi is also having a situation in which grain trader the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation has seen its operations nearly but all shuttered.

Meanwhile, an eminent social and political commentator Wonderful Mkhutche has said the state of anarchy with passports and crucially Admarc signify misdirected leadership.

‘’These are signs that there is no proper State leadership. The government exists to provide these public services to the people, but it is failing to do that. This is a great disappointment, especially coming from a government that had promised to move mountains for people’s welfare. The appointments of some of the managers of the agencies is a result of political appeasement. Our appointing authorities are always to throw people’s welfare to the wind as long as they have pleased certain individuals. They are leading the country for themselves, not for the people,’’ he says.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party, has also slammed the Chakwera led government over the situations.

Its leader in parliament, Mary Navicha told parliament that as the opposition, they feel that the government has failed.

But the government has through minister of Information said the situation is under control.

In the last few hours before this report, the Immigration has disclosed that the demographic data for valid passports that was lost due to a cybersecurity breach has been recovered.

However, the printing has not started yet as we conducted a snap check in Blantyre.

As the drama rages on, perhaps the question shall always remain: What lessons have been drawn from this evident mess?

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