Despite government’s declaration on its commitment towards fighting corruption, a new survey has revealed that the vice has increased in the country over the past year.
The new survey, carried out by Afrobarometer—a pan-African non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues in Africa—indicates that most Malawians feel corruption has increased “a lot”.
In its summary of findings, the survey shows that about half of Malawians think that “most” or “all” police officers, business executives and officials in the presidency are corrupt.
Dausi: It is not a fair surveyBut government has described the survey as unfair, saying it did not take into consideration its efforts in fighting corruption.
The new findings come at a time when several other surveys have indicated that corruption in the country is on the rise.
These include recent findings of the Ministry for Justice and Constitutional Affairs which indicate that most Malawians see the fight against corruption as lacking action because not much is being done to investigate suspected corrupt individuals in political leadership.
According to the Afrobarometer survey’s key findings, more than seven in 10 Malawians, representing 72 percent, say corruption has increased over the past year, including two-thirds (66 percent) who say it has increased “a lot”.
The survey says most respondents deem police officers as the worst corrupt (54 percent) while business executives and presidency officials both come second with 47 percent.
Other government officials are on third position with 44 percent then members of Parliament (MPs) are fourth (43 percent) followed by traditional leaders (42 percent) and judges and magistrates on 41 percent.
But, according to the survey, most Malawians feel religious leaders are the least corrupt at 22 percent.
However, the new findings indicated that Malawians believe officials from the presidency are now less corrupt than they were in 2014 when they were the most worst followed by police.
“About eight in 10 Malawians [81 percent] say that people risk retaliation or other negative consequences if they speak out about corruption and that the government is performing ‘fairly badly’ or ‘very badly’ in fighting corruption [78 percent],” reads the survey’s summary of key findings.
When contacted for reaction to the new findings, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) deputy director general Reyneck Matemba said he could not comment on an “unofficial survey”.
However, government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who is also Minister of Information Communications and Technology, said: “I don’t think that is a fair survey, I don’t think it has taken cognisance of our efforts to fight corruption.”
Dausi said the survey may have been conducted before government launched certain initiatives such as the national anti-corruption conference organised by Ministry of Justice and ACB aimed at finding solutions to the vice.
He said: “Maybe, they have taken it from the point of perception not the reality on the ground. But that aside, government will continue collectively fighting corruption and ensure it is eradicated and nobody benefits from corrupt acts.”
The survey is also coming at a time when the country is hosting the Commonwealth meeting of heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa currently underway in Mangochi.
Two months ago, the South African-based Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) and Africa Minds also made a damning summary in its report that successive Malawian Presidents have been involved in, or abetted, corruption by riding on mutating governance systems that have prevented citizens and even the ACB from holding them fully accountable.
The Malawi Confederation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) recently also admitted that corruption and fraud have become rampant and firmly rooted in doing business in Malawi, a development it said was making the country lose millions of public funds.
The 2017 Transparency International (TI) corruption index findings released in January this year also revealed corruption had worsened over the last few years resulting in the country drastically moving from position 88 in 2012 to 120 in 2016. n