Malawi: Government Corruption Without Any Shame

Saulos Chilima

It is much to the shock of many Malawians that the Malawi government has handpicked bidders for the Agricultural Inputs Program (AIP). This is really disappointing and frustrating for the people of this country, especially those who elected the government. It’s broad daylight theft by the leaders in power, operating a mafia government. By the way, who gave the Tonse Alliance Government the authority to engage in such a transaction? In whose interest is the government doing all this?

However, first of all, whenever a government handpicks bidders, even for a different program apart from agriculture, it is a sad situation, to say the least. It is clear corruption, theft, and underestimation of the citizens of this country, nothing else. Is this what the government can do for its people? I don’t think so. This is a big insult indeed!

Secondly, this is a clear breach of government procedures and an abuse of office by whoever has made this decision. It’s one of the reasons this nation won’t go anywhere but just keep going in circles. We need a serious government that can provide better services to its citizens than what is happening right now.

Third, political corruption and the application of wrong decisions by government officials or their network contacts for illegitimate private gain is very unfortunate and leading the nation in the wrong direction. This is the beginning of yet another illegal business taking place in broad daylight, where the government wants to steal from its people yet again for the fourth growing season in a row. From the poor network in 2020, which showed that poor farmers had already received fertilizer when they hadn’t, to AIP fertilizer program funds ending up in a butchery abroad, there is enough evidence that we have a government of thieves. The poor farmers of Malawi are indeed in big trouble, and everyone else is dancing to the wrong music.

Fourth, poverty is a known factor that encourages corruption in local governments. Did Malawians make a big mistake voting for leaders who had been out of government for close to thirty years?

Fifth, places with failing economies and poverty sometimes receive loans or start aid programs to support the local economy and the people, and public officials are often able to unlawfully take the money or goods for private gain. Haven’t Malawians seen enough of all this? We are yet to see more plunder in the next growing season.

Sixth, speaking up and making a complaint helps expose corrupt activities and risks that may otherwise remain hidden. Keeping the public sector honest, transparent, and accountable helps stop dishonest practices and ensures that public sector employees act in the public interest. Unfortunately, everything is getting worse in this country.

Seventh, in a nutshell, corruption increases inequality, decreases popular accountability and political responsiveness, and thus produces rising frustration and hardship among citizens, who are then more likely to accept (or even demand) hard-handed and illiberal tactics.

Finally, we need political economy to integrate political and economic factors in our analysis of modern society. While just about everyone would agree that politics and economics are intricately and irretrievably interwoven—politics affects the economy and the economy affects politics—this approach seems natural. When our leaders plan well, it affects the nation positively; when our leaders plan badly, the nation is affected negatively.

The economics of corruption must deal with the misuse of public power for private benefit and its economic impact on society. Economies that are afflicted by a high level of corruption will not allow this nation to prosper as fully as those with a low level of corruption. Our levels of corruption are getting even worse by the day compared to the past, and this is really bad.

Corruption is leading to biased tax.