The country has moved from 122 last year to 120 according to the report released by the Berlin-based watchdog, National Integrity Platform (NIP).
The improvement comes as Malawi tries to recover from the systemic looting of state coffers under former People’s Party (PP) administration. The $50m Cashgate scandal in 2013-14, when a third of the government’s budget was stolen, led international donors who funded nearly half of Malawi’s budget to withdraw funding, leaving the economy foundering.
President Peter Mutharika, who is seeking fresh mandate in the May 21 presidential race, has always argued that corruption is not greater now than it was before the Cashgate revelations.
“We are doing more development than at any time in the country’s history. If there was so much corruption there would be no money to do what we are doing,” Mutharika is on record to have said.
The latest corruption perception index worldwide also saw the United States dropping four notches out of the top 20 countries in the world.
Botswana remains Africa’s most transparent country with a ranking of 34, followed by Namibia, Mauritius and Senegal.
Malawi goes to polls in May 21 in what President Mutharika calls “watershed”. The country has held competitive elections since 1993, when the repressive one-party regime of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who ruled for three decades after independence, ended.
The economy has been stabilised since the Cashgate scandal, with inflation tamed to below double digits and central bank reserves rebuilt. However, gross domestic product growth, estimated at 4 per cent last year, is regarded by the IMF as too slow to raise most of the population out of poverty.