There are clear signs that substantial funds have been embezzled from the Malawian Ministry of Finance. The President has asked the World Bank and the UK for assistance in investigating what seems to be a serious case of corruption. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided on 10 October to freeze all further budget support to Malawi until there is independent confirmation that weaknesses in Malawi’s financial management system have been rectified, stated in a press release from the ministry.
So far this year, aid amounting to NOK 250 million has been provided to Malawi, of which NOK 50 million was in the form of budget support.
“The reports of embezzlement in Malawi’s Ministry of Finance give serious cause for concern. We must get all the facts on the table, and I am pleased that President Banda is taking action. If she requests Norway’s help in the investigation, we will consider how we may contribute. We have a policy of zero-tolerance for corruption, and cannot disburse any more budget support to the Malawian authorities until this matter has been fully resolved,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.
Malawi is the poorest of Norway’s partner countries in southern Africa, with an average life expectancy of 52 years for men and 54 for women. Low incomes, insufficient food supplies, inadequate schooling and poor access to health services are an everyday reality for Malawi’s 15.5 million inhabitants. Many are affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The majority of the support from Norway goes to food security and the health sector, with emphasis on gender equality and women’s rights.