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Malawi: Citizens renew their call for government action to uproot corruption

Since assuming office Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has talked tough and pledged zero tolerance for corruption.
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Photo by Abrahan Echeverria

Since the reintroduction of multiparty elections in 1994, corruption has held a persistent and prominent place in Malawi’s political campaigns and government pronouncements. Like other presidential aspirants, President Lazarus Chakwera has talked tough and pledged zero tolerance for corruption (Aklilu & Agarwal, 2010; Sangala, 2017; Matonga, 2021).

Anti-corruption activists have welcomed positive signals, such as the appointment of Martha Chizuma – noted for her zeal against injustices when she was ombudsman – as director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the conviction of notable business moguls on corruption charges, the firing of some cabinet ministers, and the reshuffling of the cabinet to drop some ministers suspected of engaging in graft (Makossah, 2021; Namangale, 2021; Al Jazeera, 2022).

Voices of Malawi citizens

The most recent Afrobarometer survey suggests that work remains to be done in the battle against corruption. A majority of Malawians say that corruption is increasing and that the government is performing poorly in dealing with the vice. Most want strong sanctions against cabinet ministers and businesses associated with corruption. But more than half also endorse amnesty for corruption suspects who return their ill-gotten gains.

"Afrobarometer survey findings are a blessing in disguise for Tonse Alliance government,"
Gospel Kazako, Malawi Minister of Information and Digitisation

Photo by Aditya Septiansyah

Afrobarometer survey findings – February 2022

Afrobarometer data revealed that most Malawians want to see swift action against government officials and business persons charged with corruption.

Key findings

83 %
of Malawian agree with the idea that cabinet ministers and government officials charged with corruption should be fired immediately.
82 %
“agree” or “strongly agree” with calls to debar businesses implicated in corruption. However, 57% say suspects who refund proceeds from corruption should be granted amnesty.
66 %
of Malawians say corruption in the country increased over the past year, including 57% who say it increased “a lot.”
42 %
of Malawians say “most” or “all” police are involved in corruption.
Malawi in the evening

Photo by Tamara Gerwinat on Unsplash


Responding shortly after the release of the Afrobarometer report highlighting Malawians’ dissatisfaction with government efforts on corruption, demanding swift action against corrupt officials, Malawi Minister of Information and Digitisation, Gospel Kazako said the survey findings were a blessing in disguise and an opportunity for the Tonse Alliance government to improve.

In Chatham House’s The World Today, Golden Matonga, director of investigations for the Platform for Investigative Journalism in Malawi referenced the Afrobarometer survey:

"The president has responded to the demand for more action by vowing to remove from office all individuals found to be involved in corruption while funnelling more resources into institutions mandated with fighting graft.
Golden Matonga

Read Dispatch 522: Malawians dissatisfied with government efforts on corruption, want swift action against corrupt officials