TI report on Malawi: corruption remains a major challenge in multiparty Malawi

To curb corruption, rules and regulations on public procurement and accounting systems must be implemented and public contractual obligations adhered to, says TI report

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



A new report, The National Integrity Systems TI Country Report - Malawi 2004 has been published today by Transparency International (TI), the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption.

The TI study, carried out between 2003 and 2004, assesses the effectiveness of the Malawian National Integrity System (NIS). The NIS is comprised of the key institutions that contribute to the fight against corruption in a country. The study looks at the culture of corruption, transparency and accountability, donor-government co-operation on the fight against corruption, and future prospects for the consolidation of good governance and democracy in the country. The report finds that corruption has increased in Malawi, in part as a result of weak institutions of state restraint.

Malawi is a small, poor country in Southern Africa that emerged from authoritarian rule in 1993 after more than 30 years of one-party dictatorship. "The re-introduction of multiparty democracy in 1993 brought some hope for tackling these challenges in the country," according to Dr Muzong Kodi, TI's Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, speaking from Berlin. In 1995 the Malawi Government instituted the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and launched a comprehensive Corrupt Practices Act, which was later amended in 2004. "Despite these measures, corruption has continued to pose serious challenges in the country to such an extent that some foreign donors withdrew their support from the Malawi Government in 2003," states Kodi. Weak governance in the country, which led to this withdrawal of international support, in turn affected the macro-economic and political environment.

The study's author, Mr Nixon Khembo, continues: "The study finds that corruption increased in Malawi as a result of weak institutions of state restraint. That is to say, parliamentary oversight was weak because of executive dominance, accounting systems were not efficient due to lack of resources, constitutional bodies depended largely on foreign donors for their functions, and political parties in Government depended on state resources for their survival and activities." The TI study was conducted while Malawi was celebrating 10 years of multiparty democracy but also grappling with a spiraling corruption problem.

Furthermore, the study finds that the legal system in Malawi has been overridden with obligations other than fighting corruption, that civil service remuneration has been meager, that the the ACB has been lacked functional autonomy, and that media has remained underdeveloped. With the re-introduction of multiparty democracy came a culture of extra-legal accumulation and wanton abuse of public resources, which may be attributed to a legacy of a culture of silence and absolutist power that characterised the one party state. As a result, political leaders and public officials implicated in corruption still fail to resign their positions to facilitate investigation and the course of justice. Similarly, there is political and bureaucratic resistance to the constitutional declaration of assets by incumbent political and bureaucratic officials.

The TI NIS country study recommends the following measures to promote the fight against corruption in Malawi:

To improve governance and curb corruption, it has not been enough to introduce multiparty democracy in Malawi. What is required above all is building institutions of state restraint, together with stabilising the macro-economic and political environment, reducing poverty, and entrenching the rule of law. The principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, transparency and accountability and a culture of critical citizenship must be at the heart of the anti-corruption agenda in Malawi if transparency and better governance are to prevail.

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The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report Malawi 2004 and other country study reports can be downloaded at: http://www.transparency.org/

Note for editors:
Transparency International has developed the concept of the National Integrity System (NIS). The NIS is the sum total of the laws, institutions and practises in a country that maintain accountability and integrity of public, private and civil society organisations. The NIS is concerned with combating corruption as part of the larger struggle against misconduct and misappropriation, and with creating an efficient and effective governance structure in a country.

 


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Stéphane Stassen
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