In 1994, following a national referendum in 1993, a new system of multiparty politics came to Malawi. In 1995, Malawi adopted a new Constitution. This Constitution emphasized the need to introduce measures to “guarantee accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity and which by virtue of their effectiveness and transparency will strengthen confidence in public institutions“.
As a direct result of this constitutional commitment, the government through Parliament introduced institutions that would promote transparency and accountability, respect for human rights and respect for the rule of law. The institutions include among others: the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Office of the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, and the Law Commission.
In 1995, Parliament passed the Corrupt Practices Act No.18 of 1995. The Act under Section 4(1) establishes the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which is headed by the Director General. The Director General and the Deputy Director General are both appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Public Appointment Committee of Parliament. The Bureau began its full operations in 1998. The Anti-Corruption Bureau is an autonomous body.
On 16th April 2004 the Corrupt Practices Act was amended giving the ACB increased powers to carry out its work of controlling corruption in Malawi. The definition of corruption was widened to among other things, include offences for abuse of office and possession of unexplained wealth.
As a result of the amendment, the Act provides for the investigation of cases not only for corruption but for other offences that come to light during the course of investigating corruption. The Act also provides for protection of “whistleblowers” which was absent in the original law.
Following the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in May 2004, an enhanced political will to tackle corruption became apparent. The incumbent President, His Excellency the State President of the Republic of Malawi, upon his inauguration declared “Zero Tolerance on Corruption”.