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Malawi drops 5 steps on world corruption index

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Willy Kambwandira

The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Report by Transparency International (TI) shows there is an improvement on Malawi’s score as the country has scored 35 out of 100 points and is ranked 110 out of 180 countries and territories that have been assessed.

The 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) shows that Malawi has scored 35 percent, dropping 5 percentage points when compared to 2020 findings, where Malawi scored 31.

This, according to the TI statement released on January 25, means cases of corruption have been declining in years between 2012 and 2020.

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The report indicates that this is because of changing perceptions of the government’s resolve to fight corruption

However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (Csat) have said there is more work to be done for the country to dispel conceptions that it has corrupt elements.

HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said, despite there being signs of progress, the country was far from winning the battle against corruption.

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“We need real commitment to stamp corruption out of the country. As things stand, we have many outstanding cases that are yet to be thoroughly

investigated, let alone being taken to court,” he said.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira said, while there had been a slight improvement in perceptions towards corruption in the country, the work was cut out for the government.

“There is still a lot of work to do as corruption continues to eat through the fabric of both the public and private sector.

What we can do now is to sustain efforts against corruption in the country,” Kambwandira said.

The report further indicates that, despite making commitments on paper, 131 countries have not made significant progress in fighting corruption, with a further 27 countries being at a historic low in their CPI score.

“The fundamental freedoms of association and expression are crucial in the fight for a world free of corruption,” the report reads.

Based on the CPI record of the past six years, there is a slight improvement in commitment made towards the fight against corruption, a development TI attributes to the change of administration, among other factors.

Since 2014, Malawi has scored less than 35 points.

The last time Malawi was ranked at 110 out of 175 countries was in 2014 and, going by the CPI score and ranking, there is a slight improvement based on how the country been rated in the past six years.

In December last year, when the country commemorated International Anti- Corruption Day, Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director-General (DG) Martha Chizuma cast doubts on the realisation of Malawi’s long-term development blueprint, dubbed Malawi (Mw) 2063, bemoaning the rate corruption was manifesting itself in the country.

Chizuma said, looking at the number of cases the bureau was handling and the amount of money involved, the country had a long way to go to win the battle against the vice.

The ACB head argued that the aspirations inscribed in the country’s social-economic blueprint needed to be oiled by public funds but that, unfortunately, some of the resources were being lost to corruption.

“From where we are sitting as a bureau, when we look at the amount of money that is being lost [to corruption], I keep on saying that let’s just forgot about all these dreams we have for Malawi; dreams about [having a] prosperous Malawi, about [becoming a] middle-income country by 2063 because all that needs investment— it needs public money going into social services like schools, roads, urbanisation of farming and whatever we need.

“However, if we continue at this rate, the rate at which we are committing these corrupt acts… then let’s just forget about Malawi 2063. If we want to be talking about Malawi 2063, let’s stop corruption,” she said.

Chizuma said the bureau had, at that time, just opened 30 case files in relation to the selling of farm inputs under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

She said most of the cases were to do with extortion, where officers were demanding money in the range of K3,000 to K5,000 from farmers earmarked for the inputs.

“We have been having the National Corruption Awareness Month, which started on November 8 and ends on December 9. During this time, the focus has been on AIP. There are so many problems, which we learned about when we visited about 100 selling points, across the country. There were issues that we dealt with [right] there because they bordered on service delivery but there were others that were corrupt acts,” she said.

However, Thomas Munthali, the DG at the National Planning Commission (NPC)—which is spearheading implementation of Mw2063— said at the time that Chizuma’s sentiments had to be treated as a word of caution.

He said fighting corruption required the adoption of a multi-sectoral approach.

The NPC DG added that, as part of fighting corruption through strategic planning, the Mw2063 10-year implementation plan outlined strategies tailor-made to fight corruption.

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