Malawi Country Profile 2010-2011


Strong economic growth and increased food production have characterized Malawi in recent years, but still the country is among the poorest in the world. Bingu wa Mutharika was elected as president with a large majority in 2009, and with two-thirds majority for his party in the National Assembly, he completely dominates Malawian politics. The board has become increasingly authoritarian after the election, something that can set limits for the free press and civil society.

The elections in May 2009 greatly changed the party political image in Malawi. President Bingu wa Mutharika now voted for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the party he appointed after the break with the old United Democratic Front (UDF) government, which he represented when he was elected president in 2004. UDF leader Bakili Muluzi, who was president of democracy was introduced in 1994, refused to stand again. Mutharika won a superior statement over Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo.

In the parliamentary elections, the DPP received two-thirds majority with 137 seats. The MCP was reduced to one third by 25 seats, and the UDF was sitting with only 15 members in the national assembly. The women’s representation in parliament increases from 13 to 22 percent, which is quite astonishing in a system of one-man shrines where candidates are nominated through primary elections.

There are no major political differences between the political parties. DPP can claim to have returned to more order and governance than was the case under the UDF board, and also has a more active state economic policy. The background of the president’s rollercoaster was the successful agricultural policy and clearer signs of greater order, such as street vendors being removed and traffic control strengthened. Especially after the great electorate, Mutharika has emerged as ever more authoritarian, and has used the majority in parliament to give more power to the president and strengthen his police right to control the people. In January 2010, he was elected President of the African Union (AU).

M√łge may indicate that two of the older campers who have characterized the country for the last twenty years are now out of Malawian politics. Muluzi has been under investigation for corruption and is rather unhealthy and has been temporarily replaced as a party owner. John Tembo, who was born in 1932, faces ever-stronger opposition in the MCP, which was the only legal party under Hasting Banda’s dictatorship.

Economic conditions

Malawi is still one of the poorest countries in the world, but in recent years economic growth in the country has been 7-8 percent a year. Nevertheless, the economic crisis will come out strong after a quarter, especially due to price falls on tobacco, tea, coffee and cotton, which are the most important export goods. In addition, part of the assistance is expected to be reduced.

Macroeconomically, the government has succeeded. Expenditure is under control, inflation is below 10 percent, and the country has left most of its international debt. Mutharika has been less affected by corruption complaints than its predecessor. His biggest accomplishment was to change agricultural policy and introduce large-scale subsidies on fertilizers and seed. This policy – combined with good rainfall in recent years – has turned Malawi from emergency aid recipient to maize exporter, and has now made the country internationally regarded as a success story when it comes to food production.

The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and tobacco dominates exports. Uranium mining has begun in the north of the country, and the Australian-owned mining company is the second largest taxpayer in the country. Malawi has a long history of unsuccessful structural adjustment programs, but the relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank improves with Mutharika’s new policy after 2004. In 2009 and 2010, this relationship became more difficult as a result of larger deficits in the state budget. The givers play a big role in the country. Malawi has been our Norwegian partner country since 1998.

Social conditions

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa. One assumes that the percentage of poor people in the country dropped from 50 in the last living survey in 2005 to 40 percent in 2008. About 95 percent of children receive schooling, but just 55 percent complete primary school. About as many girls as guys go to school. Still, 35 percent of adult women are illiterate, compared to 21 percent of men. Health tests have been developed all over the country, but over half of the positions in the health care system are empty due to a shortage of qualified personnel. About 12 percent of the population between 15 and 49 are HIV positive. Otherwise, malaria and tuberculosis are widespread diseases. Since the end of the 1990s, the number of children dying before their five-year-olds has dropped significantly, from over 180 to 111 per thousand in 2007.

Poverty in Malawi is largely a result of a lack of natural resources, low agricultural productivity and a poor level of education. In addition, the country is located so that transport costs in and out of the country are very high. The Gini coefficient, which measures income distribution, is 0.39, which is not particularly high for a developing country. Women’s income accounts for about 73 percent of men’s income, a relatively small difference.

Community life

In Malawi, various church communities are the most important actors in civil society, and they have played a crucial role in critical times for democracy. Voluntary organizations are usually urban based and depend on assistance. The unions are weak and partly have our mark of inner strife. The strong role the president now has may have made it more difficult for civil society organizations to influence politics in the country.

The most extensive violations of human rights occur in connection with the ineffective judicial system, the police’s treatment of prisoners and the conditions in prison. Violence and abuse against women and children is also a major problem. The past year also represents a setback for a fierce battle for gay rights, with two men engaged to remain in public prison.

The courts are independent, have not been allowed to use politically and have previously played an important role in limiting the president’s power. The army has not interfered in political matters since the transition to democracy in 1994, when they crushed Banda’s brutal youth population. The daily press is largely free, but together with voluntary organizations feel that conditions for what can be written and saastast have become trongare lately.

Malawi is one of the least urbanized countries in Africa. According to Abbreviationfinder, about 20 percent cages in cities. At the same time, urbanization is increasing by six percent a year, which is almost twice as fast as the average for Africa.

Country facts:

Area: 118 484 km2 (36th largest)

Population: 15 million

Population density: 125 per km2

Urban population: 18 percent

Largest city: Lilongwe – 732 000

GDP per capita: USD 278

Economic growth: 7.4 percent

HDI Position: 160

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