This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.
What is the status of corruption and anti-corruption in Malawi?
I would like a country corruption profile for Malawi to help us compile our anti-corruption strategy.
1. Overview of corruption in Malawi
2. Anti-corruption efforts in Malawi
Corruption poses a serious challenge in the development of Malawi. The country suffers from various types of corruption – from high level political corruption to petty bribery that impedes service delivery and patronage and nepotism that exacerbates inequality and poverty in Malawi society.
Corruption is seen to be particularly severe in the police, registry and permit services, customs, and the judiciary. There are also reports of widespread corruption and extortion by public officials in procurement.
While some of the corruption measurement metrics indicate that Malawi has been making progress on the anti-corruption front in recent years, the country is still marred by high levels of political corruption. Institutions such as the judiciary, the office of the ombudsman and the anti-corruption bureau are seen as being effective in investigating and prosecuting lower level corruption cases. However, experts have raised strong concerns about their treatment of politically significant persons and interests.
The launch of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2008 is thought to have brought many improvements to the anti-corruption framework of the country. Malawi is seen to have strong anti-corruption laws and institutions and initiatives by the private sector complement the governmental efforts. However, experts state that there is still a significant gap between law and practice. For example, civil society and media are two areas where there are adequate laws to protect their independence and freedom, but where the government exerts a strong influence. Lack of adequate funding and human resources for public institutions also add to the erosion of the accountability mechanisms.
The recent political changes in Malawi, with the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika in early April 2012, and the accession to power of vice-President Joyce Banda is being hailed by some experts as a moment of opportunity for Malawi to purge the legacy of high levels of political corruption. It remains to be seen whether the regime change will translate to actual change on the ground in Malawi to close the gap between the anticorruption framework and implementation.
Farzana Nawaz, Transparency International, firstname.lastname@example.org