‘Yes’ Malawi corruption getting worse, President Mutharika admits

Malawian President Peter  Mutharika  has responded to the claim by Britain’s  High Commissioner Michael Nevin that  corruption in his country is “worsening” by admitting that it is.

President Peter Mutharika speaks to people at Ntcheu Bus depot: Corruption seen to be worsening

President Peter Mutharika speaks to people at Ntcheu Bus depot: Corruption seen to be worsening

In a newspaper interview, Nevin who leaves the country at the end of a four-year tour of duty, warned that rule of law could be permanently undermined by failure to arrest those who break the law.

Malawi government official spokesperson and Information and Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati rejected the perception that Malawi’s corruption is worsening.

But Mutharika  conceded that the country has become significantly more corrupt when he addressed a whistle-stop political at Ntcheu rally on his way from Blantyre to Lilongwe.

He said corruption and fraud continue to affect the country’s development efforts.

“Thirty per cent of donor money goes into the drain through corruption and fraud practices by both government and civil society organizations and we cannot develop with such undesirable practices,” he said.

Basically, Mutharika agreed with  Nevin that corruption is getting worse and vowed to root out the vice.

He reiterated his call for the spirit of hard work, integrity, patriotism, unity and honesty.

It is estimated that about 35% of government funds have been stolen over the past decade in systematic looting of public coffers by civil servants, private contractors and politicians, a scandal christened ‘Cashgate’.

Malawians have always known that corruption is rife in the country. But the sheer size of the Cashgate scandal, both in terms of the amount and the wide number of people involved, has shown how deeply rooted the problem is.

The University of Malawi’s Blessings Chinsinga recently pointed out that: “Efforts to root out corruption do not stick because the existing institutional milieu makes it almost impossible to introduce changes that can effectively stamp out corruption.”

The observation is instructive in that Cashgate  spans two political administrations. Malawi was led by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika in 2004 and the scandal unravelled on the watch of Joyce Banda in 2013.

Fertile ground for corruption

A number of factors contribute to the current state of affairs.

There is no clear distinction between a party in power and government activities in Malawi, unlike in established democracies. In Malawi, the party in power is the de facto government.

In Malawi, a party in power calls itself boma (a government). Ordinary Malawians look at abuse of state resources by those in power as acceptable. It is almost impossible to tell a party in power from the government.

Even more serious is the fact that political parties in Malawi are not mandated to declare their sources of funding. This breeds corruption and fosters abuse of public resources.

Another contributing factor is that after 21 years of multiparty democracy, governance in Malawi remains heavily centralised. The central government has been reluctant to relinquish some of its powers. The President makes even the smallest of decisions and undertakes mundane tasks that should be reserved for line ministries. This encourages a system of patronage.

Lastly, government contracts, tenders and board memberships all go to sympathisers of the party in power and not necessarily to the best bidder or the most competent applicant. Government sympathisers or ruling party members get contracts regardless of their levels of competence.

This unfairly benefits the incumbents and weakens opposition parties. Businesspeople are afraid of funding opposition parties because they could lose state contracts and other business opportunities.

Scale and depth of corruption exposed

Malawians have always known that corruption is rife in the country. But the sheer size of the Cashgate scandal, both in terms of the amount and the wide number of people involved, has shown how deeply rooted the problem is.

The involvement of the country’s political class in the scandal is in stark contradiction to their penchant for standing on political campaign podiums promising to fight corruption with all their might.

There is an unwritten rule in Malawi that successful businesspeople align themselves with the governing party in order to protect their property and gain more contracts.

Malawi is still learning to cope without support from donors and the jury is still out on whether it has learnt anything from its biggest scandal. A recent article in African Arguments underlines the hopeless feeling that Cashgate has left among most Malawians:

“Malawi’s self-enriching officials need to know they will be judged not just by an imperfect judicial system, but by generation upon future generation of their compatriots.

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Nabetha
Guest
1 month 5 days ago

Thank you Mr president its only a problem acknowledged that we can attempt to solve!! Thank you for removing the politicking mask for once. If we can have five cabinet ministers thinking like this we are on our way to deliverance from this cancer.

Magede Si Wandale (Is He Still Alive)
Guest
Magede Si Wandale (Is He Still Alive)
1 month 5 days ago

Koma masiku ano bwanji ma comment akuchepa pa forum ino. Only 20 comments on an important issue like this. Previously this could have had in excess of 100 opinions.

I am studying this trend and trying to establish if is the case of Nyasa Times kuyambakutha ngati makatani or Bwampini’s support waning.

Where is team Magede Si Wandale to come and defend their beloved president APM.

The Patriot
Guest
The Patriot
1 month 5 days ago

Akweni mukamva mukuti bwanji? Manyazi bwanji? Just yesterday a certain loud mouth was in town disputing the observation by the outgoing ambassador of the UK to Malawi. And today, the big man himself, the Professor has vehemently agreed with Mr Nevin about the worsening corruption in our beloved country. This is a proof beyond rsasonable doubt that Akweni is a pathological liar!

Mwananyanian
Guest
1 month 5 days ago
Koma abale (ladies and gentlemen), am I missing something so stark according to most of the comments; or am I simply illiterate? I suppose most comments are made in good faith, but I really see no clear contradiction or inconsistency between what was said by the President and by Ms Kaliati, separately. Nevin said corruption is getting worse in this country, but he gave NO evidence. Ms Kaliati, like everyone else, admits there is widespread and unacceptable level of corruption: She just DID NOT agree with Nevin that corruption is getting worse – without Nevin giving any metrics. And APM… Read more »
Mathanyula
Guest
Mathanyula
1 month 4 days ago

Hahaha Mr Man school me on this one.. Widespread and getting worse is there a difference?

PATRIOT
Guest
PATRIOT
1 month 5 days ago

PETER,unless you don’t comprehend the wording,”HIGHLY EDUCATED”,please revisit it and you will find that,Peter’s education has not resonated with his poor leadership.Bakili Muluzi was unlettered so to speak,but he led the nation with deligence and sense of patriotism.He had his own shortcomings,but not as worse as Mathanyula’s,who will go down in history as worst President in line with rogue Hastings Banda.Peter,come to your real self!!!

Careless Police
Guest
Careless Police
1 month 5 days ago

Thank you Mr President for admitting a problem. Next how do you deal with the problem. Arrest these thugs some have clear evidence. Just arrest them. If you do others will learn a lesson and stop. It is getting worse because all DPP governments till your admission now have been denying that there is no corruption. Thus this habit has accelerated even during PP era !

If you start arresting wrong doers even in your party things will change just like that we will vote for you en mass but now at this pace I can’t .

Winston Msowoya
Guest
Winston Msowoya
1 month 5 days ago
Finally,the King of corruption has succumbed to his own evils.Step down forthwith,you have betrayed the trust of your sleeping voters.What do local chiefs have,to involve in corruption? Malawians,it is high time we ignore voting tribalistically or Mwana wa kwathu,this is the ramification.As long as we don’t ditch this uncivilized tendency,we shall continue to live in the cacoon of self-deception.You vote for a qualified Chewa,you have voted for a Malawian,you vote for a capable Lomwe,you have voted for a Malawian and if you voted for the hated Hinya,you have voted for a Malawian,what is a problem there? This mishap,effectively involves everyone… Read more »
Sowazi
Guest
Sowazi
1 month 5 days ago

My friend Emeneka wayowoya makola. Walasa nyani tchende.

VYOTO
Guest
VYOTO
1 month 5 days ago
THE LEADER HAS OBJECTIVELY SPOKEN WITH MATURITY THIS TIME AROUND AND SHAMED THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON, MADAM KALIATI AND THOSE OF YOU WHO BLINDLY CRITICIZED THE BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONERS STATEMENT ON HIGH LEVELS OF CORRUPTION IN MALAWI.HOWEVER, LET THE PRESIDENT WALK HIS TALK BY REPLACING THE WEAK HEAD OF ACB, MR KONDOWE, WITH A STRONG CHARACTER WHO CANNOT BE EASILY INFLUENCED BY THE POLITICIANS,SOMEONE WHO CAN NOT BE EASILY APPROACHABLE BY THE DAUSI’S,CABINET MINISTERS AND THE LIKE. LET GOVERNMENT ALSO PROVIDE ADEQUATE FUNDING TO NAO AND ACB TO CONDUCTIVE OBJECTIVE AND INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS IN ALL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS INCLUDING EMBASSIES.LET GOVERNMENT STRENGTHEN… Read more »
avide
Guest
avide
1 month 5 days ago

“…..scandal christened cashgate”. Reporter spare Christ The Holy One from your vocabulary when writing about theft of public funds. Dont abuse the word “chritening” in your article. u can use the words, ‘named or called or popularly known as…etc. GIVE CHRIST THE GLORY HE DESERVES

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