Malawi Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as MWI by Abbreviationfinder, Malawi is a largely free country. But the corruption is extensive and there are, among other things, problems with police brutality and arbitrary arrests.

Malawi is a democracy with multi-party systems. Power has repeatedly changed hands under peaceful forms. At the last 2019 election, however, the opposition accused the government of irregularities of nearly 150 points.

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Freedom of association and assembly is guaranteed by the constitution, but it happens that the regime stops demonstrations by denying permission. Civil society can usually operate without restrictions, but the government has discussed introducing a rule that could make it possible to prohibit funding for organizations that oppose its policy.

Freedom of religion prevails and is generally respected, but Muslims testify to discrimination. Homosexuality is prohibited by law and can give up to fourteen years in prison.

Violence against women is prohibited, as is rape. But domestic violence is common and rarely investigated by the police. Men and women are equal before the law, but women are nevertheless financially discriminated against and in the labor market. Widows can lose their assets to the husband’s family. Malawi is ranked 112th in the World Economic Forum’s Index of Gender Equality in 149 Countries 2018.


Several corruption scandals have been revealed in recent years. In 2018, the legal aftermath of a huge tangle of embezzlement on state funds called “cashgate” was underway (see Calendar). But the investigative work is slow and by the end of the year no senior official had been charged in this.

President Mtuharika is suspected of receiving bribes in connection with a company depositing a large sum into an account in his name. He was released from the charges in 2018, but the human rights organization Human Right Defenders says the result may have been politically manipulated (see Calendar).

Transparency International places Malawi at 123 in its latest index of expected corruption in 180 countries (see shaving list here). This gives Malawi a position just above the middle among the countries of Africa.

Freedom of expression and media

Freedom of the press and expression is guaranteed by the Constitution, and is generally respected. Expressing their opinion as a normal citizen is usually not dangerous, but many Malaysians nevertheless avoid openly criticizing the government.

Since the turn of the millennium, the political climate has hardened and prosecution has been brought for slander and defamation following revelations of corruption. In 2018, the authorities were closed for several days to a publisher whose newspapers had criticized the government. The official explanation was a tax dispute. Reporters Without Borders places 2019 Malawi in 68th place in its index of freedom of the press in 180 countries, which is a four-shot down compared to 2018.

In 2017, the authorities installed a digital monitoring system that will officially be used for quality control. The same year, a law was introduced that makes it illegal to “receive and share unauthorized information”. Human rights organizations fear that the authorities want to monitor e-mails and mobile traffic and have the opportunity to silence network activists.

Judicial system and legal security

The independence of the judiciary is usually respected, but the appointment of judges takes place without transparency, which undermines the credibility of the system. At the same time, the lack of resources and competent staff is crying. The World Justice Project ranks Malawi 67th in its index of the rule of law in 126 countries in 2019.

Arbitrary arrests are a problem and during police interventions there is often violence, sometimes torture. The US State Department is referring to reports that 43 people died as a result of police violence in the first half of 2018. Prisons are overcrowded and conditions are bad. The death penalty can be imposed.

Malawi Crime Rate & Statistics



Controversy over party change in parliament

The Constitutional Court declares that MPs who changed parties during the term of office have limited rights. The opposition requests the court to declare the seat of parliament vacant when a member changed party. It would hit hard against the DPP government party and most of the party’s 80 members.


HD rejects national law against the president

The opposition in Parliament is voting to launch a judicial process against President Mutharika. The Supreme Court, however, declares that the measure violates the Constitution.


The president’s new party wins support in parliament

Mutharika’s new party DPP is supported by 18 former UDF members in Parliament.


The President presents a new party

President Mutharika presents his new party Democratic Progress Party (DPP).


The president conflicts with his party

President Mutharika’s relationship with his party UDF is deteriorating. Three UDF representatives have been charged with treason after coming armed to a meeting with President Mutharika. The following month, Mutharika leaves the UDF and accuses the party and its representative Bakili Muluzi of opposing his anti-corruption campaign. Mutharika decides to form a new party.