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Malawi scores low on governance

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Henry Chingaipe

A latest report by Mo Ibrahim Foundation on African Governance shows a decline in overall governance progress, ranking Malawi on position 23 out of 54 countries from 19 in 2018.

The country has moved up from 54.6 points to 51.5 points in 2019.

The report—released on November 16 2020 by the foundation in London, the United Kingdom—indicates that Malawi is among five countries whose governance systems have deteriorated in the past five years.

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The other countries are Tanzania, Benin, Niger and Burundi.

The Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance (AIIG) indicates that other areas that the country has performed poorly in include security and rule of law, corruption, public administration, access to health care, freedom of association and assembly, political pluralism, civil society space and the provision of equal civil liberties for women, among others.

However, the country has registered improvements in, among other areas, judicial mobile telecommunication, social protection and human development.

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“Human Development is the category where most countries follow a path of slowing improvement… In the rest of the upper half of the ranking table, between 11th ranked Gabon and 27th ranked Gambia, only three countries, São Tomé and Príncipe, Benin and Malawi, have followed a path of increasing improvement. Gambia is the only country to have deteriorated since 2010,” the report reads.

Governance expert Henry Chingaipe said it was not surprising that governance assessment of 2019 points to deterioration.

“The period referred to was characterised by bad governance indeed. Between 2018 and 2020, before FPE [fresh presidential election] the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] government was at the peak of impunity and pursuing a political agenda in ways that were inimical to all the good tenets of good governance and public sector management,” Chingaipe said.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director, Michael Kaiyatsa, also said findings of the index were not surprising.

“The good thing is that the administration has already shown commitment to change the way the government should be run. That is why we have seen the President [Lazarus Chakwera] focusing on ending corruption by clearing the rubble.

“However, we have learnt from previous administrations that sometimes promises are made but nothing is done. For example, we have seen that, on issues of gender, the current administration promised to deliver but it is failing. No wonder, we have heard an outcry from some sections of the public,” Kaiyatsa said.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has said he would not comment on results of the index as it did not mirror the period they had been in power.

On whether the document would be useful to the government, Kazako said: “It is not a question of the report being useful or useless. The bottom line is we were not in government that time. We have just been here for four months; so, it will really be difficult for us to say anything. But, as far as we are concerned, we are on track on the issues being raised,” Kazako said.

The IIAG is a tool that measures and monitors governance performance in 54 African countries annually.

The framework comprises four categories: Safety and the rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human development.

In 2019, human development was the highest-scoring of the four categories of governance

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