Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Why we are still poor


The answer is a simple one. Of course, there are circumstantial reasons, like living in a country like Malawi where the job opportunities are limited or where there is too much competition for jobs and only few companies are hiring, as well as challenges such as having no mentors and failure to access quality services in the education sector.

Of course, nepotism exists, especially this time around for, as they say, it does take money to make money.

Yes, being poor can be a state of mind too but, for our country, the question of why we are poor has a very simple and straightforward answer — because of corruption.


And the latest Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 30 2016 says it all.

According to the report, the Ministry of Health alone paid out about K882 million in allowances without any supporting documents to authenticate the expenditure.

The audit report says K800 million was paid as allowances, ranging from paying people that could not be traced to using rates that are not approved.


About K265 million was paid out in allowances to officers who are not bonafide civil servants and K399 million was paid to people that cannot be traced while K61 million was paid out to non-deserving staff.

Last week, we learnt that about 180 people with terminal illnesses are still on the government waiting list because the government has no money.

Corruption in Malawi has been a cancer for some time now. Governments have come and gone while corruption has stayed. There were many cases of corruption during the Bakili Muluzi era and very little success was registered in fighting it, save for the political noise that came with it

The late President Bingu wa Mutharika rose to prominence on a zero tolerance platform. When he won the election, we saw many getting arrested. What we didn’t know was how much he was stealing himself. His second term was marred by high level corruption which saw the country’s leading western donors protesting with an aid freeze.

Joyce Banda unlocked the freeze but Cashgate happened on her watch and we all know the story.

Now we have President Peter Mutharika and there is no end in sight as the public coffers are still being looted at will.

So, it is not surprising that the more corruption has increased, the more we notice health problems among people. We also lack potable water, proper roads and quality food.

These low quality services are offered to save money by contractors and the officials who are involved in corrupt practices. Even medicines provided in hospitals are sub-standard. This is why we are poor.

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