Malawi’s political background
Malawi is one of poorest countries in the world and is politically unstable with a high turnover of political parties and many politicians moving from one party to another as they follow the party in power. Political parties tend to be based on the personalities of their leaders rather than on a programme of policies and they tend to be disconnected from the people who they claim to represent and from civil society organizations. There is also a disconnect between the interests of the people and interest of the parties, that in turn causes an even greater distance between the party leadership and their MP’s.
In addition to this, Malawi is a deeply conservative society, in which women and youth participation in politics face severe practical barriers.
Malawi has seen some tumultuous times since 2011, when increasingly totalitarian and authoritarian President Bingu Wa Mutharika passed away and President Joyce Banda came to office. President Banda made some serious strides to address corruption and economic woes, however her presidency was overshadowed by ‘Cashgate’, a serious fraud case. In 2014, contested elections brought former President Mutharika’s brother, Peter Mutharika, to power. Many Malawians are now disillusioned with their political leaders and trust in political institutions is at an extreme low.
The approach of NIMD in Malawi
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy – Malawi (CMD Malawi) was set up by NIMD as part of previous programme and is now running independently. NIMD’s future involvement in Malawi is currently under review.