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Malawi Action Plan Review 2023-2025


Following a four-year vacuum in OGP and challenging political transitions, Malawi introduced a second action plan that focuses on transparency and anti-corruption. To deliver on its promises, implementation will require proper allocation of resources to key institutions and strong implementation and enforcement of legal frameworks. The IRM recommends that civil society are made a core partner in implementing reforms through equal representation and influence in the Steering Committee and thematic working groups.


Participating since: 2013

Action plan under review: 2023–2025

IRM product: Action Plan Review

Number of commitments: 5

Overview of commitments:

Commitments with an open gov lens: 5 (100%)

Commitments with substantial potential for results: 2 (40%)

Promising commitments: 2

Policy areas carried over from previous action plans:

  • Access to information
  • Anti-corruption
  • Extractive sector transparency

Emerging policy areas:

  • Digital governance
  • Open parliament

Compliance with OGP minimum requirements for co-creation: No

Malawi joined OGP in 2013. This report evaluates the design of its second action plan which comprises 5 commitments. Three commitments carry forward policy areas covered in the first action plan,[1] such as access to information, anti-corruption, and extractive sector transparency. The other two commitments—aimed at accelerating the adoption of digital governance and enhancing parliamentary openness—build on past commitments related to public service delivery and citizen participation.

Upon concluding its 2016–2018 action plan cycle, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) of Malawi attempted to co-create a second action plan. However, this was interrupted by the 2019 presidential election which took place in May with incumbent President Peter Mutharika winning.[2] Following a lengthy series of nationwide protests led by young people and activists, the Constitutional Court of Malawi ruled in February 2020 that the election failed to satisfy the standards of a free and fair election and subsequently ordered for a re-election to take place.[3]

In June 2020, Lazarus Chakwera won the re-election and was inaugurated as new president. However, the political transition continued to be difficult as Mutharika challenged the legality of President Chakwera’s victory to the Constitutional Court in August 2021.[4] Caught in a “hostile political environment” amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the OGP process was set aside while relationships between government and civil society became “very confrontational”.[5] In March 2022, OGP declared Malawi “inactive” after failing to deliver an action plan in consecutive cycles.[6]

In March 2022, President Chakwera met with USAID Administrator Samantha Power to talk partnership in realizing the “Malawi 2063: An Inclusively Wealthy and Self-Reliant Nation” long-term development plan,[7] during which Malawi’s inactive OGP membership was discussed.[8] At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in May 2022, President Chakwera met with Chandler Foundation representatives to discuss anti-corruption and civil service reform agendas.[9] At the National Anti-Corruption Conference in July 2022, further conversations between the government and Chandler Foundation resulted in a public pledge from President Chakwera to co-create an OGP action plan by the end of 2022.[10] In early August 2022, Directors-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Financial Intelligence Authority met with several development partners which included USAID and OGP.[11] In September 2022, President Chakwera met with OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan to discuss how an OGP action plan could strengthen Malawi’s anti-corruption efforts.[12]

Following these series of strategic meetings, the OPC hosted a co-creation kick-off workshop on 16–17 August 2022. Representatives from government, civil society, and private sector identified 11 key policy areas that would direct the design of commitments for the new action plan.[13] These included open parliament, anti-corruption, right to information, digital governance, fiscal openness, gender, civic space, public service delivery, justice, marginalized communities, and natural resources.[14] To facilitate the co-creation process, the OPC hired Henry Chingaipe, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Social Empowerment (IPRSE), as an external consultant under a need-based arrangement with financial support from the Chandler Foundation.[15] Malawi’s long absence from OGP had left a big gap in the government’s capacity to lead an effective co-creation as well as in the general understanding of OGP process among all stakeholders involved.[16]

Early in the co-creation process, the consultant found that stakeholders were largely unaware of OGP rules and standards. They attributed this to lack of engagement with civil society during inactivity in OGP and lack of efforts to involve other government ministries and agencies outside of the OPC in the previous cycle.[17] As such, the consultant conducted a refresh session to share findings of IRM reports for Malawi’s first action plan and briefed the participants on OGP Participation and Co-Creation Standards.[18] The OPC then selected 5 of the 11 key policy areas—open parliament, anti-corruption, right to information, digital governance, and natural resources—as priorities based on feasibility of implementation and relevance to the Malawi 2063 development plan. The consultant began drafting the commitments in consultation with government ministries and agencies to ensure suitability with their work plans.[19] Civil society and other non-government actors were not consulted further in the drafting of commitments.

On 30 November 2022, the OPC presented the 5 commitment proposals and gathered feedback from participants of the multistakeholder forum. The OPC provided bespoke responses and clarifications during the forum, and amended the draft. In early December 2022, the OPC submitted the final action plan document to the OGP Support Unit, who subsequently published it on 29 December 2022.[20] President Chakwera formally launched the action plan at a public event in June 2023 attended by representatives from across government, traditional chiefs, civil society, and development partners. Technical working group leads publicly signed agreements with the president to implement the  commitments.[21]

Overall, the action plan sets a very ambitious scope with two promising commitments—Commitments 1 and 5—which are assessed as the beneficial ownership transparency cluster. They share an aim of introducing legal provisions for beneficial ownership information collection and disclosure with emphasis on companies that participate in government tenders as well as those in the extractive sector respectively. While they carry the potential to curb corruption in critical areas of governance, implementing both initiatives simultaneously may stretch available resources and end up stalling progress on all fronts. In a context where resistance to anti-corruption has come not only from external actors but also from within the government itself, capacity and budgetary constraints could hamper implementation.

The remaining three commitments could generate meaningful impact, but budgetary, capacity, and regulatory constraints pose potential challenges. Commitment 2, aimed at operationalizing political finance transparency, seeks to fulfill the mandate of the 2018 Political Parties Act to establish the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP). In addition to administering political party registration, it will be responsible to collect and disclose party financial records and audit reports. However, with government budget concentrated on infrastructure building and maintenance, some experts doubt that anti-corruption and governance reform would be sufficiently resourced,[22] especially following the widespread impact of Cyclone Freddy disaster.[23]

Commitments 3 on e-government acceleration aims to increase the efficiency of public service delivery. However, whereas internet access is unevenly distributed across demographic and geographic divides, the commitment is focused on internal reforms and lacks provision to address the infrastructure gap. It is also unclear how the government will fund the development of the digital information systems that would be required for e-government transition. Commitment 4 on legislative oversight of loan bills aims to resolve opaque public debt management stemming from frequent bypass of proper parliamentary procedures due to loan bills being processed as emergency proposals. However, the commitment design does not address the underlying context of government budget being heavily reliant on external loans. These two commitments could result in important open government reforms as long as the implementers could navigate those challenges.

As the government does not have any dedicated OGP website or online repository to publish information and documentation about the process, participation in the forum was limited to invite-only.[24] Going forward, the OPC could develop an OGP website or online repository to ensure greater accessibility and compliance with OGP Participation and Co-Creation Standards in future cycles. In early stage, the OPC could add Malawi OGP information (such as action plans and Steering Committee composition) to their official website[25] and maintain a public file hosting folder to share documentation of action plan co-creation and implementation.

[1] “Malawi OGP National Action Plan 2016–2018,” Open Government Partnership, 2 April 2016,

[2] “Malawi presidential election: Chakwera leading – MBC,” BBC, 25 June 2020,

[3] “Malawi presidential election: Chakwera leading – MBC”.

[4] Lameck Masina, “Malawi braces for another election challenge,” VOA News. 25 August 2021,

[5] Henry Chingaipe (Institute for Policy Research & Social Empowerment), interview by IRM researcher, 7 March 2023.

[6] “Malawi – Letter regarding inactive status recommendation (March 2022),” Open Government Partnership, 7 March 2022,

[7] “Malawi 2063: An inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation,” National Planning Commission of Malawi, accessed 8 February 2023,

[8] “Administrator Samantha Power meets Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera,” USAID, 18 March 2022, .

[9] “Chandler Foundation CEO Tim Hanstad discusses reform efforts with Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera at Davos,” Clermont, June 2022,

[10] “Chandler Foundation meets with Malawi President to advance anti-corruption reform,” Clermont, 24 July 2022,

[11] “Administrator Power meets Malawian anti-corruption reformers and international counterparts,” USAID, 12 August 2022,

[12] Lisa Kadango Malango, “Chakwera meets CEO for Open Government Partnership,” Malawi Voice, 19 September 2022,

[13] Chancy Namadzunda, “Government reactivates OGP membership,” The Atlas, 18 August 2022,

[14] “Malawi OGP National Action Plan 2023–2025,” Open Government Partnership, 29 December 2022,

[15] Frank Kalowamfumbi (Office of the President and Cabinet of Malawi), interview by IRM researcher, 23 February 2023.

[16] Kalowamfumbi, interview.

[17] Chingaipe, interview; IRM assessment of Malawi’s first action plan implementation process presented identical findings, see: Paul L. Kwengwere, “Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Malawi End-of-Term Report 2016–2018,” Open Government Partnership, 26 May 2019,, 3–4.

[18] Chingaipe, interview.

[19] Chingaipe, interview.

[20] “Malawi OGP National Action Plan 2023–2025”.

[21] “Chakwera launches the OGP action plan for Malawi,” Malawi24, 6 June 2023,

[22] Leah Malekano, “Parliament pass 2023/2024 budget, experts doubt its efficiency,” Zodiak Malawi, 31 March 2023,

[23] Frank Phiri & Bhargav Acharya, “Cyclone Freddy death toll jumps to over 1,000, Malawi president says,” Reuters, 12 April 2023,

[24] “Malawi OGP National Action Plan 2023–2025”.

[25] See:


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