Malawi, a country rocked by popular disaffection in 2011 which included deepening authoritarianism and arbitrary power reflected in the passage of draconian laws against civil liberties, has been ranked 36th in the latest ranking of most failed States.
Malawi scored 88.8 points. The unique ranking compiled by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is topped by African countries Somalia (114.9 points), Democratic Republic of Congo (111.2), Sudan (109.4), Chad (107.6) and Zimbabwe (106.3).
The 2012 Failed States Index, an annual ranking of 178 nations, is based on their levels of stability and the pressures they face.
The 2012 Failed States Index is the eighth edition of the annual Index comprising data collected between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.
The Failed States Index scores should be interpreted with the understanding that the lower the score, the better. Therefore, a reduced score indicates an improvement, just as a higher score indicates greater instability.
Malawi was last year overwhelmed by protests and riots against former president the late Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s regime, which left several people dead and many others injured.
Human rights activists Billy Mayaya and Undule Mwakasungura observe that the damage done by the Mutharika administration best explains the ranking which signals a “very high warning” according to the index.
Explains Mayaya: “The ranking reflects in part the dynamics that drive democratic governance in Malawi. Despite the goodwill being advanced by the government of President Joyce Banda in terms of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rule of law, we are aware that there are structural challenges which need to be addressed.
“The damage done by the previous government still has to be addressed. The current government is making noble efforts to uphold the rule of law, but as we all know, repairing the tainted image of Malawi will be a prolonged process and this explains partly the continued drop in ranking. It is anticipated that with the measured strides being made by government, hopefully there will be an improvement in the rankings next time.”
Mayaya, however, remained optimistic that the trends can be overturned if the country adheres to principles of democracy in rule of law, separation of powers, free, fair and accessible elections, tolerance, transparency and accountability, human rights and gender empowerment.
“Additionally, civil and political rights have to be respected, protected and fulfilled in tandem with social, economic and cultural rights
Mwakasungura, on the other hand, concurred with the index, saying Malawi is a failed State owing to the political ills of 2011.
“We know that the country was collapsing or collapsed both politically and economically [in 2011],” said Mwakasungura who is executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR).
Mwakasungura also observed that Malawi stands a chance to do well in the rankings.
“Yes, Malawi can do better and already with the new administration, we have seen commitment in terms of dealing with the economic, political and democratic challenges. All in all, we have seen the country back to sanity and peaceful.
Among the 10 most significant “worsening” in 2012, six were experienced by Arab countriesâ€”Libya, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrainâ€”as a result of the turmoil dubbed Arab Spring.
Meanwhile, the situation in DR Congo worsened as a result of continued conflict in several parts of the vast country and, in particular, due to violence and uncertainty surrounding tight and hotly disputed presidential elections in November.
At the worst end of the index, Somalia continues to endure widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, abysmal development and rampant piracy.
Indeed, beyond continuing to occupy the top spot on the index, Somalia actually managed to score more poorly than last year, registering a 1.5 point increase to 114.9. This represents Somaliaâ€™s worst-ever score, eclipsing the 114.7 it scored in 2009.
The score of 114.9 also represents the highest score in the history of the index.
Mutharikaâ€™s government always dismissed any suggestions by the ranking that Malawi was a failed State.