Malawi Country Guide

The Malawi Country Guide was produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and Citizens for Justice Malawi (CFJ).

The Country Guide is a compilation of publicly available information from international institutions, local NGOs, governmental agencies, businesses, media and universities, among others. International and domestic sources are identified on the basis of their expertise and relevance to the Malawian context, as well as their timeliness and impartiality.

The initial survey of publicly available, international sources was carried out by DIHR from January to December 2014. The draft was then updated and localized by CFJ from January to March 2015.

The completed Country Guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview, on the basis of the information available, of the ways in which companies do or may impact human rights in Malawi. The current Country Guide is not meant as an end product, or a final determination of country conditions. It is intended to be the basis, and the beginning, of a process of dissemination, uptake and modification. DIHR and PILER seek further engagement with local stakeholders, and intend to update the Country Guide on that basis.

Download the Human Rights and Business Country Guide Malawi here

Read the full Country Guide here

News Feed

Malawi: How to enhance women's participation in the mining sector

19 Sep 2017 — "How can women’s participation in mining improve?" ...In a bid to understand how practitioners and policy makers can ‘increase the participation and empowerment of women working in the mining sector’, Adam Smith International and International Women in Mining looked at Malawi and Sierra Leone’s mining laws and interviewed diverse stakeholders in the sector...The case studies show that women work across the value chain and are more represented in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. [Itmakes]  number of recommendations centre around the role legislation can play: Simplify the formation process of mining cooperatives and associations and provide accessible guidance to interested parties through mineral agency offices, websites and social media. Ensure women have a voice in community consultations, resettlement and compensation through mining sector regulations that mandate their equal and meaningful participation; and ensure legislative language does not inadvertently prohibit women from receiving compensation. Specify and implement quotas at a legal and regulatory level to support the participation and entry of women into the sector. For example, in local content requirements and mining companies, especially for senior and operational level positions, as well as for educational bursaries, training, and programmes. Extend mining health and safety regulations to specify work places that are suitable for women and to safeguard women from harassment or violence. Require government departments, agencies and companies within the mining industry to record and publish data that is disaggregated by gender. For example the number of women and men employed the roles that they fill, and their average salaries.

Malawi: 250 households sue Global Metals & Mining for lack of compensation for displacement to pave way for mining

14 Sep 2017 — "Kanyika mine in court" 4 September 2017 Kanyika residents...have taken...Globe Metals and court for failing to compensate them after they were asked to relocate to pave way for...a nobium mine...[Their lawyers] are claiming damages for about 250 households that were told to stop developing their land, building houses, farming and other economic activities in readiness for the relocation in 2012. The people say they have endured hunger and poverty since Global Metals said they would be compensated and relocated.

Malawi: Tax regime should not favour mining companies at local communities' expense, says columnist

17 Aug 2017 — "How might the Malawi government fail to secure a fair share of natural resource wealth?" ‘Is the deal a good deal?’ is a question often asked about the agreement signed between Paladin and the government for Kayelekera uranium mine. Reductions in royalty rates and other tax incentives have come under public scrutiny, while the company and government argue that these were necessary for the project to go ahead. In Malawi, negotiating tax terms has been the norm to date for mining and petroleum contracts. The amendments to the Taxation Act passed last year address this for solid minerals by fixing tax rates. This was done in an effort to protect future potential revenues from the sector. However, reduced tax rates are not the only way a government can lose revenue. Revenue can be lost through erosion of the tax base against which tax rates are applied... It also goes without saying that strengthening tax administration is vital, but an imbalance in expertise between companies and government ‘will remain, for the foreseeable future, between the lawyers and accountants’. And it may be wiser to change the balance between profit-based and production-based taxes to the latter, which have fewer associated revenue risks. Finally, project-level revenue analysis, using public disclosures, is the most effective way to understand payment to government through ‘taking into account project production and project costs, the sale value of the commodity and the applicable fiscal terms’. The report is a reminder for the government to look beyond revisions to tax rates to ways to address the erosion of the tax base because ‘tax rates are meaningless in the absence of the tax base against which they are assessed. Put simply, whether the corporate income tax is 25 or 35 percent is irrelevant if companies report no taxable income’.

Africa: Demand for land for large scale agricultural investment & commercial centres compromising livelihoods & fuelling conflict, says columnist

2 Aug 2017 — "Loss of Fertile Land Fuels ‘Looming Crisis’ Across Africa" ...Africa itself has a land problem. The continent seems so vast and the land so open. The awesome sense of space is an inextricable part of the beauty here — the unadulterated vistas, the endless land. But in a way, that is an illusion. Population swells, climate change, soil degradation, erosion, poaching, global food prices and even the benefits of affluence are exerting incredible pressure on African land. They are fueling conflicts across the continent... Private investors are tramping in as well. Since the 1990-2005 period, global food prices have increased by 50 to 75 percent. Many foreign companies and local businesspeople have speculated that despite soil degradation, African farmland is destined to become more valuable. Small landholders across the continent are increasingly getting priced out or even evicted to make way for big commercial farms. This has led to conflict even in usually peaceful places, like Malawi, where a land-defense movement recently started to fight back against foreign-owned tea plantations. Farmland is also rapidly vanishing into housing tracts and shopping centers to serve Africa’s growing and more affluent population. This is happening everywhere: quiet fields’ suddenly being transformed by an army of tractors into a set of neat houses or a colossal mall.

Les Commissions foncières d’Afrique veulent sécuriser les droits fonciers des communautés locales

2 Aug 2017 — "Les Commissions foncières d’Afrique s’engagent à sécuriser les droits fonciers communautaires", 25 juillet 2017 Pour la première fois se sont réunis à Accra au Ghana les commissaires africains en charge du foncier. Ils ont affirmé leur volonté de faire progresser les réformes politiques, juridiques et réglementaires dans leurs pays respectifs et à assurer leur mise en œuvre effective afin de reconnaître les droits fonciers communautaires et de sécuriser les terres communautaires. Les terres communautaires sont un enjeu important car elles représentent la majorité des terres du continent. Les systèmes fonciers coutumiers représentent en moyenne 70% de la masse des droits fonciers dans tous les pays. «Nous acceptons de poursuivre les efforts pour identifier, reconnaître et protéger les droits fonciers des communautés, y compris les groupes les plus vulnérables, qui sont les jeunes, les femmes, les nomades, les personnes handicapées et d'autres groupes ayant des liens solides avec leurs terres», indique une résolution des Commissaires aux droits fonciers...les commissaires soulignent que seule la reconnaissance des droits fonciers traditionnels par les commissions foncières nationales ne suffit pas et qu’il faut s’attacher à travailler à l'égalité des droits, à l'expropriation, aux moyens accessibles d'obtenir un crédit et des certificats fonciers juridiquement contraignants. En outre, une attention particulière sera portée sur les femmes, les jeunes et les personnes vulnérables, en établissant des quotas pour ces groupes. Autre point souligné, la nécessité de relocaliser les autorités de gestion des terres dans des zones plus proches des communautés et à renforcer leurs capacités...les commissaires ont convenu d'adopter et de renforcer des méthodes alternatives pour la résolution des conflits, dans des contextes où il est difficile pour les communautés d'accéder aux systèmes de justice de l'État, en particulier à la lumière de la distance entre les tribunaux et les zones rurales, les coûts des procédures, le manque de sensibilisation..«Il est donc essentiel de s'appuyer sur des méthodes de résolution de conflits qui sont proches, moins coûteuses pour les communautés, plus efficaces et adaptées aux coutumes locales pour la résolution des conflits. Les institutions locales pour la gestion des conflits devraient être renforcées et mieux soutenues et réglementées par l'État », ont-ils déclaré..  

Eastern Africa: HIVOS says sexual harassment in flower sector '"prevalent" but "widely unacknowledged"; launches initiative on model sexual harassment policy for sector

27 Jul 2017 — "Stop Sexual Harassment Project: A Model Sexual Harassment Policy for the Flower Sector in Eastern Africa" ...[HIVOS] Stop Sexual Harassment Project...will work with the following project partners to implement an enhanced intervention in Eastern Africa:Kenya– Workers Rights Watch and Haki Mashinani; Uganda– Uganda Flower Growers Association (UFEA), Uganda  Horticulture Industrial Service Providers and Allied Workers Union (UHISPAWU), Uganda Workers’ Education Association (UWEA), and National Organization of Peer Educators (NOPE);Tanzania – Tanzania Plantation and Agricultural Workers’ Union (TPAWU);Ethiopia- National Federation of Farm Plantation and Fisheries and Agro-Industries Trade Union (NFFPFATU).The goal of the project is to promote a workplace and community culture that is responsive to addressing sexual harassment in the flower farms. [The project will] enhance a culture and systems for protecting workers from sexual harassment in the workplace; To develop replicable and scalable best practice methodologies for protecting workers from sexual harassment in the workplace.

Malawi submits its inaugural Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report

19 Jun 2017 — Malawi has submitted its first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report was submitted to the Multi-Stakeholder Group. The report relates to the period from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, and covers oil, mining and forestry sectors.

Full report

19 Jun 2017 — "Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MWEITI)"

Full report

12 May 2017 — “Media outreach campaign minimises land grabbing” In 2009 the government of Malawi started promoting commercial agriculture and supporting the acquisition of land on behalf of investors interested in conducting large-scale farming. This took place profusely in areas such as the Chikhwawa and Nkhotakota districts along the Shire River and Lake Malawi respectively, whose soils are fertile and conducive particularly to sugarcane cultivation. As a result of this, pressure on land in these areas increased massively, leading to elites scrambling for land in these areas to benefit from financially…This trickled down to the village level, and manifested itself in local chiefs using their power to grab land from members of their communities, and selling the land to investors and elites. This became a major problem as entire communities, in losing their land, lost their livelihood. LandNet Malawi collaborated with eight media houses…to launch a media campaign and raise awareness nationally on this situation. Together, they visited the affected areas to hear the villagers’ accounts with regards to what happened to their land, and also to find out what was being done in response to the challenges they were facing.

Malawi: Report on how media campaign reduced land acquisition for agribusiness at expense of peasant farmers

12 May 2017 — In Chikhwawa and Nkhotakota Districts in Malawi, there have been grave reports of land grabbing and land related conflict due to the expansion of sugarcane cultivation. LandNet Malawi conducted a successful media campaign resulting in the minimisation of land grabbing and dispossession of inhabitants of their land.