Malawi is one of Africa’s (and the world’s) least developed nations. Only 20% of the population live in cities and agriculture accounts for 90% of export revenues-the country is particularly reliant on tobacco production. The agricultural sector also accounts for 90% of the population.
President Mutharika has tightened government control over the economy over the past five years and has been rewarded by the International Monetary Fund, who provided him with a three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, worth $56million. Backing from the IMF stimulated a brief period of international corporate interest, but investment dropped by 23% in 2009 because the government was failing to make necessary improvements in telecommunications and power infrastructure.
The lack of infrastructural improvement is partly explained by a weak executive government. The current President, President Mutharika is in charge of a minority party and so struggles to get radical reforms through the legislature. Mutharika was elected whilst leader of the majority party, the UDF, but was forced to break away after the election, because the previous President (and leader of the UDF), Bakili Muluzi, still had the support of a large proportion of the party and did not approve of the new president’s anti-corruption initiatives. Muluzi would have been re-elected but was prevented from running because of constitutional limitations on how many terms a President can serve.
The state’s relative weakness also lies in the legacy of the British colonial administration, which was sparse to say the least. Colonial administrators were given a budget of £10,000 in 1891, to administer an area in which 1-2million people lived. This paid for no more than ten civilian Europeans, two military officers, seventy Punjab Sikhs, and eighty-five porters from Zanzibar.
Malawi has a rich cultural tradition. Dance is central to the traditions of many Malawian ethnic groups. The National Dance Troupe was founded in 1987 by the government. Malawi also boasts many prominent literary figures, including poetJack Mapanje, fiction writer Paul Zeleza and authors Legson Kayira, Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula and David Rubadiri.