As the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released yesterday indicates that corruption has worsened in Malawi since 2012, business captains have expressed worry that the trend would further impoverish Malawi.
The newly released index shows that the country has moved up eight places from position 112 in 2015 to 120 in 2016.
The global corruption institution states that Malawi was on position 88 in 2012, but has gone down to 120. The situation is largely attributed to the massive plunder of public resources known as Cashgate which happened between 2012 and 2013 and reports of corruption in government since then.
The CPI indicates that on a score of 0-100, zero being highly corrupt, Malawi scored 31, which is within the red zone of the CPI between 0-39.
The increasing rank has the potential to keep away potential investors and development partners who use the CPI as a basis for estimating the level of risks for business and investments in a country.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has expressed worry over corruption’s tendency to chase away investors, resulting in unemployment in the country, especially among the youth.
MCCCI president Karl Chokotho said when corruption is not contained in a country and there are such strong perceptions of corruption, a picture is created that Malawi is bad for investment.
“It is true that perceptions of corruption chase away potential investors…If we are not containing corruption, we are creating a picture that we are all corrupt. It’s bad for investment.
“Government must do something about it, not just talk. Government must not only do something but must be perceived to be doing something,” he said.
Chokotho also said a simple analysis of media reports would show different cases, giving the perception that corruption is rampant and government is doing little to curb the malpractice.
Launching the Transparency International report yesterday, National Integrity Platform (NIP), a civil society anti-corruption initiative in Malawi said demonstrating political will to deal with corruption at all level of leadership without bias as well as concluding Cashgate cases would improve the perceptions that Malawi is very corrupt.
Commenting on the CPI at a panel discussion after the launch of the report, political scientist and researcher Boniface Dulani observed that efforts to strengthen anti-corruption institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) since Cashgate have not been successful and, instead, confidence in the governance institution continues to go down.
“Corruption has become so normal, at all levels of society, such that it is a waste of time reporting a suspected corrupt practice. ACB has a huge vacancy of investigators and when they investigate, prosecution is selective,” he said.
Dulani further noted that the perceptions that corruption is on the rise were correct, going by the reports that there was political interference in the completion of investigations on suspected corruption at public institutions such as the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).
“This is not an ACB problem alone, it is political. When a whole ACB director says he will not continue investigations and has no explanations to make, then you know we have a problem. All this starts from the appointment of people into such institutions, knowing they could be removed anytime makes them align themselves to politicians,” he said.
In his remarks, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national coordinator Christopher Chiphwanya said the CPI was right because all indications were there that corruption at the top level remained unregulated and uncontrolled.
“It has been implied on many occasions that money siphoned from government coffers goes towards political party financing and this is why the political parties’ legislation was developed.
“While ACB should be fighting corruption in these areas, it is weak, biased and prosecution is selective. Coupled with uncoordinated fight against corruption between the ACB and Director of Public Prosecutions and weak political will, it is no wonder that corruption is on the increase,” he said.
Construction Sector Transparency (Cost) country chairperson Joe Ching’ani admitted to high levels of corrupt activities in the industry, especially among procuring entities.
“It is no surprise that Cashgate had its roots in the construction sector. Construction works are suffering in this country and the sector is being used to plunder public money,” he observed.
Speaking when he presenting the CPI findings yesterday, development adviser to the NIP Karen Del Biondo said the downward trend could only be reversed with increased access to information for improved transparency and accountability as well as conclusively dealing with Cashgate cases to increase trust and confidence in the government’s ability to fight corruption.
NIP board member Levi Mihowa said the score and ranking was an indication of erosion of integrity and increase of greed among Malawians.
“It is even worse that people found to have committed corrupt practices feel they are protected by some powerful people in government.
“This just further increases the perceptions that corruption is on the rise. It is disheartening that it is no longer just happening at central government level, but we are now getting information of worsening corruption in local councils,” Mihowa said.
Meanwhile, development partners have also expressed concern over the worsening situation.
New British High Commissioner Holly Tett was recently quoted as saying her government would welcome authorities to be bolder in their anti-corruption fight by not interfering with the work of institutions such as ACB.
United States Ambassador Virginia Palmer told our sister paper Nation on Sunday recently that her government welcomed the Malawi government’s commitment to rooting out corruption at all levels, but as always implementation would be key. n