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    Government through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has recovered the hijacked passport system following cyber-attack by unknown mercenaries who demanded a ransom. The move that translates to massive national security breech.

    The responsible department, through its Spokesperson Wellington Chiponde, has since confirmed the successful resumption of passport printing and that the newly acquired machine is printing 15, 000 passports per day. He also disclosed that the department is yet to start accepting new applications until parliament gazettes the revised passport price.

    “We are printing the passports. Of course, we are not receiving new applications because we are waiting for the parliament to gazette the new price of K50, 000 before accepting new applicants,” said Chiponde.

    Just to be on the same page, and even to help those with inadequate information on the topical issue, here are the chronological developments linked to the halting of production of Malawi passports.

    After the unpalatable news that hackers have assumed ownership of the passport issuance system, a diverse opinion erupted from multiple angles claiming to be in possession of the technical know-how in the field of Information Communication Technology (ICT). Some commentators especially those on social media took advantage of the incidence to advance their agenda of campaigning against Chakwera administration.

    In a bid to invoke some public anger, critics of the current leadership propagated what was latter practically dismissed as false news by telling Malawians that the passport issuance system has been hacked to irredeemable degree, claiming that all data of passport holders is lost for good. Thus, any attempt to retrieve the system would amount to draining of taxpayers as such an exercise would not yield the desired results.

    The state president Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera disclosed during the presentation of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the August House that mercenaries have ceased control of the system and the same were demanding colossal sums of money as a ransom.

    Induced by  sheer concern for the suffering of Malawians in need of passports, on February 29, 2024, President Chakwera ordered the responsible department to restore the system and resume printing of passports within 21 days. As usual, opposition media pundits dismissed the practicability of the ultimatum clinging to their claims that the system is beyond redemption.

    To the shock of many Chakwera critics, the line department announced the restoration of the system and subsequent resumption of issuance of passports before the expiry of the 21-day ultimatum.

    As if that good news wasn’t enough, the government announced a 55% reduction of ordinary passport fee from K90, 000 to K50, 000. The passport subjected to downward price revision is the one with a 10-day processing time, and the same 36-page booklet. To the contrary, opposition social media zealots fooled the public into believing that the slashed price has accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the number of pages. That’s totally false!

    In conclusion, this publication, with information from credible sources and confirmation on the ground, assures Malawians that printing of both ordinary and diplomatic passports has resumed. In addition, the newly acquired machine is able to print 15 000 copies per day.

    We can also reveal that the erstwhile administration remains at pains to accept the termination of the contract with Techno Brain as the main opposition party used to cut home US$10 from every US$90 the company was getting from the deal. That was nothing but pure theft, and the same coerced the government to discontinue the contract agreement.

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