Corruption is not just a ‘majority world’ problem as witnessed to by the ongoing FIFA scandal for example! Nevertheless, it can be difficult for people in the West to truly understand deep insidious impact of the social cancer that is corruption.
The economist sums it up nicely:
Such corruption annoys the rich (at least those who don’t themselves benefit) but makes life miserable for ordinary people. Getting a place at a good school; getting permission to build on land you own; starting a business: all can involve paying people off. The cost to newly-developing economies is tremendous. The sheer injustice of the rich buying themselves out of criminal convictions while the poor get harsh treatment, is greater still.
Measuring corruption is even more difficult than describing its impact but is greatly helped by studies like the Global Corruption Index that published the most recent data for sub-Saharan Africa on 1 Dec 2015 (Ref 1, Ref 2).
The results for Malawi are mixed. On the upside at least its global ranking in terms of corruption is in the middle of the list at 110/174 [compared with the UK at 14/174] . This is higher than its ranking in terms of Gross National Income per capita (ref) where it is flagged as the poorest in the world. Malawi’s absolute score of 33/100 [compare with the UK at 78] also means it is a little better than some of its neighbours (eg Mozambique at 31/100).
However, on the downside the trend in corruption appears to be downwards with 71% of those surveyed thinking corruption is getting worse, and 44% thinking corruption has increased a lot in just the past two years, and the index dropping from 37 in 2012
Interestingly the biggest problem is seen to be with the police, closely followed by public officials. Some 95% of survey respondents in Malawi thought the police corrupt or extremely corrupt. Indeed based on our own conversations with Malawians, we suspect that many of them would agree with the Economist that the opportunity for corrupt gains makes it feel like the African police turn the very act of driving itself into a crime!
Nevertheless there is room for some optimism, for the same survey shows that 84% of Malawians agreeing or strongly agreeing that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
Lets pray, that given time, the people of Malawi will recognise their collective strength and ensure they obtain the leaders and public servants that they desperately need and deserve; men and women of Christ-like character, of integrity, accountability and discipline.