Malawians dissatisfied with government efforts on corruption—Afrobarometer survey

A demonstration that was held yesterday in Blantyre 

* They want to see swift action against corrupt officials

* Concerned Citizens held demonstrations in Blantyre calling for a referendum * To test President Lazarus Chakwera’ popularity

By Duncan Mlanjira

The latest Afrobarometer survey indicates that most Malawians perceive that the government is doing a poor job of fighting corruption and should immediately fire cabinet ministers and other officials accused of graft.

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The findings by Afrobarometer — a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life — show that most Malawians believe that corruption increased over the past year since President Lazarus Chakwera took over leadership.

President Chakwera

It also indicates that “the police continue to top the chart of offices and institutions perceived as corrupt” and that “only small majority of Malawians believe they can report corruption to the authorities without fear of retaliation”.

“While immediate dismissal of cabinet ministers and government officials charged with corruption receives overwhelming popular support, a slimmer majority also say suspects who refund proceeds from corruption should be granted amnesty.”

“For a government that campaigned on zero tolerance for corruption, and a country badly in need of resources to improve service delivery, these findings represent a renewed call to action,” said the report.

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Its key findings include:

* Two-thirds (66%) of citizens saying the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” at fighting corruption (Figure 1);

* More than eight in 10 Malawians (83%) agreeing with the idea that cabinet ministers and government officials charged with corruption should be fired immediately (Figure 2);

* However, 57% of respondents say suspects who refund proceeds from corruption should be granted amnesty (Figure 3);

* Two-thirds (66%) of Malawians say that corruption has increased over the past year, including 57% who say it has increased “a lot” (Figure 4).

* Among key institutions and leaders, the police are most widely perceived as corrupt: 42% of Malawians say “most” or “all” police are involved in corruption, followed by the Malawi Revenue Authority (39%) and business executives (38%) (Figure 5).

* Almost eight in 10 Malawians (78%) say people risk retaliation or other negative consequences if they report corruption to the authorities (Figure 6).

Afrobarometer’s eight survey rounds in up to 39 countries have been completed since 1999 and round 9 surveys (2021/2022) are currently underway.

Afrobarometer’s national partners conduct face-to- face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice and the team in Malawi is led by the Centre for Social Research, which interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,200 adult Malawians in February 2022.

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A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Malawi in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2019.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Concerned Citizens held demonstrations in Blantyre on Thursday calling for a referendum as one way of testing the popularity of President Chakwera.

The group presented a petition to the District Commissioner’s office on various concerns, which was received by Blantyre City Council Director of Planning, Tamanya Haraba.

The grouping made similar calls in Zomba last month and has since threatened that they will not relent until authorities succumb to their demands, as said by its leader Oliver Nakoma.

Nakoma has since called on Malawians to join and participate in the demonstrations they will be holding as one way to show that they are not happy with the current economic situation.

There was heavy police presence