The Development Situation in Malawi - International Development Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 74% of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.[1] Rates of maternal, infant and child mortality are amongst the highest in the world, whilst 12% of the working-age population suffers from HIV.[2] The Department for International Development (DFID) is one of Malawi's largest donors, having provided approximately £70 million in bilateral support during 2010-11.[3]

2. Most significantly of all, Malawi is a country which has seen dramatic changes over recent months. When we announced an inquiry into the situation in Malawi, one of our main reasons for doing so was that DFID had recently suspended general budget support (the provision of funds directly to the Exchequer), and the UK High Commissioner had been expelled from Malawi. Given these circumstances, we were concerned about DFID's capacity to deliver its programme. The suspension of general budget support was a response to the performance of the Malawian Government: the then President, Bingu wa Mutharika, had become increasingly autocratic, whilst also presiding over an economic crisis. His relationship with his Vice-President, Joyce Banda, had deteriorated significantly: whilst constitutionally unable to remove her from her post, he had expelled her from his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Whilst the inquiry was in progress, however, President Mutharika died and was replaced by Banda. President Banda has swiftly reversed many of her predecessor's policies, and Malawi's relationship with its main donors—including the UK—has improved.

3. This Report seeks to achieve two objectives. The first is to look back over the Mutharika era, and to assess how well DFID coped with an undoubtedly challenging situation. Any lessons which DFID is able to learn from Mutharika-era Malawi will be of great value for the future. The second objective, by contrast, is to look forward, and to consider how DFID can best respond to the newly changed circumstances in Malawi.

4. We issued our initial call for written evidence in December 2011, and called for further evidence in April 2012 in view of the changed circumstances. We received 37 submissions of evidence in total, from a wide range of organisations—both UK-based and Malawi-based. We also held an oral evidence session, with witnesses from DFID, CDC and World Vision. The Committee visited Malawi in March 2012, visiting a variety of DFID projects and holding meetings with the late President Mutharika (shortly before his death) and with the then Vice-President Banda.
2004Bingu wa Mutharika elected as President of Malawi.
2009President Mutharika secures a second term.

His Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secures a Parliamentary majority for the first time.

December 2010Vice-President Joyce Banda expelled from DPP (but remains Vice-President) after refusing to endorse the President's brother for the Presidency in 2014.
February 2011Public Policy lecturer Blessings Chinsinga accused of trying to incite revolution.
April 2011British High Commissioner expelled from Malawi for criticising President Mutharika's autocractic ways.

Malawian High Commissioner expelled from UK in response.

July 2011DFID and other donors suspend general budget support to Malawi.

NGOs hold demonstrations across Malawi to protest against the Mutharika regime. Twenty protestors shot dead by police.

5 April 2012President Mutharika dies of a heart attack.
7 April 2012Joyce Banda sworn in as President.
April - May 2012President Banda announces new Cabinet, and replaces Inspector-General of Police, Head of State Media, and Reserve Bank Governor.
7 May 2012President Banda announces currency devaluation.
18 May 2012New Parliamentary session opens; majority of MPs willing to support Banda Government.

1   Ev w59 Back

2   Ev w75 Back

3   Ev 22 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 24 July 2012