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07LILONGWE866 2007-11-21 07:06:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Lilongwe
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: President Mutharika and other government leaders
expressed public disappointment and frustration with the 2007
Transparency International (TI) corruption perception ratings for
Malawi. Mutharika's main criticism was that TI had no local
representation and was dealing with old information. A timely
activity of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold
country program supported a consultative process and stake-holders
conference Nov. 13-14 regarding the possible formation of a new
Transparency International (TI) chapter. Far from a knee-jerk
reaction, the conference was the culmination of a year-long effort
to restart a local chapter to ensure that local voices are heard in
future ratings exercises conducted by TI. A task force is currently
reflecting on the results of the stake-holders conference and will
present recommendations regarding the formation of a TI/Malawi
chapter in January 2008. The Ambassador secured the support of
President Mutharika and other senior GOM officials for this
initiative. End summary.

TI Gets the President's Attention


2. (U) Malawi's 2007 Transparency International (TI) "Corruption
Perception Survey" raw score remained un-changed from last year, but
Malawi's numeric ranking vis-`-vis other countries included in this
year's index slipped. Goaded by slanted reporting in the local
press, numerous government officials, including President Mutharika,
suggested that this was due in part to TI using outdated data and
including more countries in this year's index. Shortly after the
score was released, the President stated that he wanted to invite
the president of TI to the country to evaluate for himself the
progress the country is making in combating corruption. As this
occurred in the month immediately prior to the long-planned
MCC-sponsored public TI events, mission leadership consulted closely
with MCC's partner Casals and Associates to create an environment in
which the government and the press would be receptive and positive
about TI. The Ambassador met with the President, Finance Minister
Gondwe, Economic Planning and Development Minister Kalebe, and
Foreign Minister Banda in early November to brief them on
USG-supported efforts to re-establish a TI chapter in Malawi and to
request that they support it. All of them, but most importantly
President Mutharika, welcomed this important U.S. support for TI.

The Once and Future TI Chapter


3. (U) TI previously had a chapter in Malawi but it was
de-accredited by the Berlin TI Secretariat in March 2006 due to
financial troubles, and was officially disbanded by the board in May

2007. In November 2006, a Malawi delegation participated in an
International Anti-corruption Conference held in Guatemala with MCC
support and returned with an interest in resurrecting TI in Malawi.
The group subsequently worked with MCC implementing partner Casals
and Associates (C&A) to determine the steps necessary to re-start a
TI/Malawi chapter. C&A, the TI Secretariat in Berlin, civil society
representatives engaged in anti-corruption initiatives in Malawi,
and the National Implementation Steering Committee (the committee
charged with developing Malawi's national anti-corruption strategy),
agreed on a two-phased approach that included consultations with
stakeholders and a follow up conference as the first steps to
re-establishing the chapter.

4. (U) With TI releasing its survey at the end of September and the
consequent reaction of the government throughout October, the plan
to hold the TI stakeholder consultations and conference in early
November proved extremely timely. TI representatives from its
Secretariat in Berlin and its Kenya chapter convened a conference in

Lilongwe on November 13-14. Nearly 100 participants from civil
society, media, private sector, and government attended the first
day of the conference and engaged in frank and thoughtful dialogue.
The second day was attended by civil society representatives. The
groups determined that given the number of civil society
organizations already working on governance and anti-corruption, any
TI/Malawi chapter should complement, and not compete, with their
work. A task force was formed to undertake additional consultations
with stakeholders and come up with recommendations for the
appropriate form and structure of a future TI/Malawi chapter. Their
recommendations will be presented to civil society stakeholders in
January 2008.

5. (SBU) Comment: The conference succeeded not only as a gauge of
the feasibility of reinstating the Malawi TI chapter, but also as an
opportunity for the government to present to TI representatives the
strides it has made in fighting corruption. By reinventing the
local TI chapter through a careful consultative process, MCC is
helping to create a lasting TI presence that can accurately portray

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the corruption situation in Malawi and help to hold the government
accountable - a concept with which the Government of Malawi