Malawi among lowest-scoring on political finance regulation

Malawi has been ranked among the lowest-scoring countries that are failing to enforce political finance laws, according to a report from the Global Integrity an award-winning nonprofit advocacy group that tracks governance and corruption trends globally.

Regardless of how weak or sophisticated their political financing regulations are, countries around the world are equally failing to effectively regulate the flow of money into politics, a report finds.

The Global Integrity Report: 2011, a major investigative study of 31 countries, was released Friday.

Twenty-nine countries out of a 31-country sample scored less than 60 on a 100-point scale on questions assessing the effectiveness of laws regulating individual and corporate donations to political parties, as well as the auditing of those donations and campaign expenditures.

Malawi scored 0 out of 100 as a direct result of the country’s complete lack of political finance regulation for political parties and individual political candidates.

Disclosure of party and candidate political finance information to the public is non-existent (0 out of 100). The scores place the country as one of the lowest- scoring ever on the Global Integrity Report

“We remain deeply concerned by the lack of progress globally on effectively regulating the flow of large sums of private money into the elections process in many countries,” said Global Integrity’s Executive Director, Nathaniel Heller.

“Political financing remains the number one corruption risk around the world, and absent meaningful reforms will continue to hinder many other open government and transparency initiatives,” said Heller.

The Global Integrity Report: 2011, which seeks to assess the medicine applied against corruption rather than the actual disease of corruption at the national level, also assessed other areas of government transparency and accountability. These include conflicts of interest regulations, freedom of the press, and law enforcement accountability.

In a few cases, Malawi scores well, particularly in areas of having the necessary legal institutions.

It covers developed countries such as the U. S., Ireland, and Germany as well as dozens of the world’s emerging markets and developing nations, from Algeria to Ukraine to China.

Rather than measure perceptions of corruption, the report assesses the accountability mechanisms and transparency measures in place (or not) to prevent corruption through 320 “Integrity Indicators” as well as journalistic reporting of corruption.

Other major findings of the report include that major anti-corruption agencies assessed in 2011 are heavily politicized and are not independent from the governments they are ostensibly tasked with monitoring.

A lack of capacity and political independence is quite often accompanied by a lack of citizen complaints to the agencies, in large part because whistle-blower protections are weak or non-existent in many countries.

In 29 of the 31 countries assessed, government bureaucracy is considered an extension of the ruling party or is routinely utilized for partisan purposes. The boundaries between public resources and party activities remain blurry in most countries assessed, with the exceptions of the U.S. (100 score) and Ireland (75 score).

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