The outgoing head of the Department for International Development (DfID) Jen Marshall has urged government to curb corruption, which is a major stumbling block to the country’s investment opportunities.
She stressed this in response to a questionnaire on her reflections as she wound up her four-year tour of duty in the country.
Marshall said greater investment by the United Kingdom is dependent on how recipient nations like Malawi fight corruption, thereby giving way to effective progress among needy citizens.
“Unfortunately, this [corruption] is still the biggest risk to our investments here and, therefore, a risk to continued aid flows from us and others, as well as to the reputation of Malawi globally,” she said.
“Very simply, the scale of the corruption here—whether through public procurement, money laundering or public appointments—is undermining the future of Malawi’s growth and development. It is stealing from some of the poorest people in the world.
“My hope, as I step out, is that there will be renewed energy in the next years by all stakeholders—by citizens, by NGOs [non-governmental organizations], by the private sector and government to take on this big challenge head on,” she added.
Marshall, however, commended government for the manner in which it implemented the National Registration and Identification programme in which the United Kingdom (UK) pumped £10 million (about K10 billion).
Commenting on the Malawi-UK aid relations, particularly in the context of the Britain’s exit from the European Union, she said the UK and DfID’s portfolio of development investments and
other support will evolve.
Marshall disclosed that Malawi stands to benefit from three big long-term uplifts in investment, with a focus to helping the country achieve a demographic transition, increased efforts for a break from the cycle of annual food shortage and other crises and more investment in, and engagement on, growing the economy.
In his reaction to the UK envoy’s sentiments, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Nicholas Dausi acknowledged that while there is still a long way to curb corruption in Malawi, the government is doing all it can to curb the vice.
In telephone interview yesterday, Dausi said the battle against corruption cannot be won in a day, as corruption needs to be tackled in its open and subtle forms.
“We are trying hard to arrest the problem. We have managed to interrogate people and some have gone to court, while others have been convicted. We are truly serious in bringing culprits to book,” he stressed.
When Cashgate—the looting of some K24 billion of public resources at Capital Hill in Lilongwe—was discovered in 2013, Malawi’s relationship with some key development partners received a knock.
The partners stopped giving Malawi budgetary support for fear of putting their taxpayers’ money in a leaking bucket.
But the UK continues to provide support to Malawi’s law enforcement agencies to tackle serious and organised corruption, including money laundering and illicit financial flows.
This includes support to the National Audit Office, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and to the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).