Corruption costs Malawi K412.5 billion

Saulos Chilima

By Deogratias Mmana:

The United Nations (UN) said Wednesday that Malawi lost over half a billion United States dollars (about K4 trillion) to corruption in 2019 alone.

Further, the UN said an assessment by the country’s Financial Intelligence Agency revealed that Malawi lost approximately $7.4 million (about K6.097 billion) to illegal foreign exchange externalisation over 11 months.


Acting UN Resident Coordinator Rudolf Schwenk said this Wednesday during the opening of a two-day National Anti-Corruption Dialogue (NACD) conference in Lilongwe.

Schwenk further said that, in October 2020, the UN Conference on Trade and Development stated that Malawi was losing five percent of its total annual wealth to illicit financial flows.

“And, according to Transparency International’s 2020 Global Corruption Barometer, 72 percent of Malawians surveyed thought corruption had increased in the previous 12 months while 28 percent of public service users had paid a bribe in the previous 12 months,” he said.


Schwenk called for concerted efforts to deal with corruption because, he said, it has a particularly strong impact on the most vulnerable when it comes to human rights.

“Corruption weakens the number of resources available to deliver core human rights through essential services such as effective healthcare, quality education, accessible justice and an accountable and responsive democracy,” he said.

He said fighting corruption prevents instability and creates an environment that facilitates the advancement of human rights.

“In Malawi, over the past 2.5 [two-and-a-half] years, we have seen an increase in protests by persons from all levels of society against acts of corruption,” he said.

The UN Development Programme is already supporting two key projects aimed at fighting against corruption: the National Registration and Identification project (NRIS) and the electronic Health Information Network (e-HIN).

He said, through NRIS and the National Registration Bureau, the project had eradicated thousands of ghost workers, ghost farmers and ghost pensioners that were a drain on the national budget.

He also said, through e-HIN, which is providing essential tracking of the supply chain of medical products from the point-of-entry into the country to the point-of-sale across the counter, the country has registered a significant reduction of cases of leakage of medical supplies around the country.

Anti-Corruption Bureau Director-General Martha Chizuma warned that alarming levels of corruption in Malawi would suffocate development progress if nothing was done to address the problem.

“[Levels of] corruption in this country remain alarming and those indulging in these acts are more and more becoming people entrusted with our public purse, who on public forums say all the right words while, behind the scenes, their actions are different,” she said.

“Moreover, in terms of its execution, they are getting more sophisticated and doing the corrupt acts with greater intensity,” Chizuma added.

She said the 2020 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International flags out Malawi as one of the three countries that have declined in the scores by seven points since 2012, with a ranking of 129.

The chief graft fighter said Malawi’s score of 30 is below the global average of 45 and the sub- Saharan average.

As if crying for her country, Chizuma said: “If the corruption situation remains in favour of corruption as opposed to the fight against it, we, as a country, should forget any progress, let alone success, in the attainment of all our development aspirations.

“We are going nowhere with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 111; we cannot expect any outcomes from the much-touted Malawi 2063 and, yes, if there is no urgency to address this issue, 10 years from now we will be sitting in this very same room mourning that the Malawi Implementation Plan 1 of the Malawi 2063 we just launched here a few days ago has achieved not much or indeed nothing,” she said.

Vice President Saulos Chilima said the government would always come up with strategies to support the fight against corruption.

Chilima, who addressed the conference through a pre-recorded speech, also said the government would support research that is geared towards supporting the corruption fight.

The conference was reviewing the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 11, which runs from 2019 to 2024.

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