Malawi Human Rights

In April 2012, Vice President Joyce Banda took office after President Mutharika died in office. President Banda was lauded for implementing a series of economic and political reforms. Less than a month after taking office, Dr. Banda announced her intention to overturn Malawi’s law banning homosexuality and repealed a section of Malawi’s penal code that banned all publication not to be deemed in the public interest. In working to repair Malawi’s international relations, Dr. Banda gained favor with some international donors for announcing she would arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir should be step onto Malawi soil. On the economic front, Dr. Banda devalued the Malawian kwacha and sold the presidential jet in order to reduce government spending. Despite backing by the International Monetary Fund, the resulting inflation from devaluation caused protests that made Banda unpopular at home. Overall, Banda’s initial actions restored domestic and international confidence in Malawi.

Malawians go to the polls on May 20, 2014 to vote in tripartite elections that include presidential, legislative and local levels of government. Donors and civil society are pressuring the government to act on high levels of corruption that came to light in September 2014 in the Cashgate scandal. A series of fraudulent transactions using the Malawian government payment system resulted in the theft of nearly 50 million USD. Although the scandal can be traced back to the previous administration, corruption proved to be rampant throughout high level government offices including the security sector and the judiciary. In addition to Cashgate, issues regarding agriculture subsidies, food security and nepotism are dominating the debate in the election campaign.

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