Immigration Department fails to confirm or deny it has lost all Malawi Passport data

* To update the public on the progress as and when need arises and once all efforts to resume passport services are completed

* President Chakwera was the first to reveal the passport technological system was hacked by unknown people and were demanding a ransom from Malawi Government

By Duncan Mlanjira

Following media reports published over the weekend that exposed that passport issuance system “has been completely destroyed” to the extent that all data for passport holders has been lost, the Department of Immigration & Citizenship Services just issued a statement refuting what was described as “allegations” without explaining the true picture on the ground.


The Immigration Department just said “the allegations are without merit and inappropriate considering the progress that has been made, especially now that Malawi citizens are looking forward to the quick resumption of passport services”.

The Department was just rhetoric by urging the citizenry “to remain hopeful as progress has been made towards establishing lasting solutions that will ensure the resumption of passport issuance”.

It stresses that “all matters relating to passports are very sensational and have a bearing on national security, social and economic development, and the integrity that is attached to the passport as a trusted international travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the respective holder”.

“As such, spreading unnecessary false information regarding the Malawi passport only seek to cause unnecessary panic,” said the statement while assuring its commitment to meet the specified timelines of resuming the provision of passport services as per the directive of President Lazarus Chakwera.

President Chakwera announcing in Parliament that the system was hacked

The President was the first to reveal to the nation that the Immigration Department’s technological system was hacked by unknown people and were demanding a ransom from the Malawi Government.

In its statement, the Immigration Department only says it shall update the public on the progress “as and when need arises and once all efforts to resume passport services are completed”.

It also asks the media to verify information through the Department’s “appropriate channels and desist from spreading false and misleading information in order to avoid creating unnecessary panic amongst Malawians and the general public at large”.

Some disenchanted members of staff at the Immigration Department itself are the ones leaking some inefficiencies within the ranks ranks and a voice note that is circulating on social media blames Senior staff who tried to tamper with the passport issuance system that was created by private firm Techno Brain.

A report by Malawi News indicated that Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda led a team from Malawi for a virtual meeting with Techno Brain try and engage it to help recover the system — which Attorney General confirmed that the caucus indeed take place but refused to disclose what transpired there.

But Malawi News reported that its sources revealed that Techno Brian offered a temporary solution to the problem for which they charged more than what the hackers are demanding at US$1.6 million (about K3 billion) to undertake the task.

The newspaper further reveals that its sources said Techno Brain demanded that they be paid the money before the works could start.

In a statement released on February 27, Techno Brain confirmed having been approached by the government on the issue but said government hasn’t gotten back to them after the engagement.

The statement said: “We conducted an assessment of the situation and submitted practical suggestions to the Malawi government on the way forward. We have not heard back from Malawi government on these suggestions to date.”

What the Immigration Department is refuting but without offering any hope of explaining the status of the passport system — which has been leaked by some staff members — is that reclaiming the system will not solve the crisis immediately since the passport issuance system has been completely destroyed.

In losing all the data for passport holders, it means if a citizen wants to  have their passport renewed, they will will have to go through the same process they undertook in the processing of their first passport.


Malawi News reported that the fingerprint identification system has not been recovered and to get it back, it would require reinstallation of some data that are key to unlocking the system.

The servers were encrypted and it would take time to get it back to its normal status and while a number of IT companies have been engaged to help recover the whole system, they are offering long term solutions that do not work with the President’s directive of recovering the system in three weeks.

The Department is remaining with two weeks remaining of the deadline and on Thursday, Chakwera warned the authorities to retake possession of the system or face the chop.

When contacted by Malawi News, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson, Gift Trapence maintained that: “The President should take a decisive action to make sure that whoever created this mess is accountable.

He observed that the Immigration Department is not being honest with information to the public, saying: “Malawians deserve better and should not suffer because of inefficiencies of an institution due to unprofessional conduct and poor decision making of some officials.”

Gift Trapence