By Samuel Kalimira & Patience Lunda:
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has said it does not recognise national identity (ID) cards as the primary requirement for passport application.
The department says letters from chiefs and district commissioners’ (DC) stamps remain key requirements for applicants of passports.
The clarification comes amid queries from some people on why the department is still asking for letters from chiefs and DCs’ stamps as requirements, despite that the same information is on the IDs.
But the department’s national spokesperson, Joseph Chauwa, said national IDs are not primary supporting documents for those that apply for passports.
“People should understand that district commissioner’s stamp, which comes after [the exhibition of] verified letters from local chiefs, are the most important requirements for one to apply and acquire a passport. We use a national identity card as a supporting document; therefore, people should apply for passports using the required documents,” Chauwa said.
However, he said the department may start using the IDs when their system is connected to that of the National Registration Bureau (NRB) which issues the IDs.
NRB spokesperson, Norman Fulatira, said discussions are at an advanced level to connect their system to government institutions such as the department.
Fulatira said NRB hoped that the entire process would be completed by end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Northern Region Immigration Department has resumed printing of passports at their office in Mzuzu after halting the exercise for some months.
Northern Region Immigration spokesperson, Blackwell Lungu, attributed the suspension of the exercise to a hitch, which has been fixed.
“We did not stop printing [the passports] but we had a problem with our passport printing machine. We were printing our passports at our head office [in Lilongwe] and it could take a long time for them to be issued out to the owners. We are asking people to come and collect their printed passports,” Lungu said.
The passport printing machine in Mzuzu was mounted on March 31 2015.