Corruption, Grabbing and Development
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Corruption, Grabbing and Development

Real World Challenges

Edited by Tina Søreide and Aled Williams

All societies develop their own norms about what is fair behaviour and what is not. Violations of these norms, including acts of corruption, can collectively be described as forms of ‘grabbing’. This unique volume addresses how grabbing hinders development at the sector level and in state administration. The contributors – researchers and practitioners who work on the ground in developing countries – present empirical data on the mechanisms at play and describe different types of unethical practices.
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Chapter 7: Grabbing land in Malawi

Blessings Chinsinga and Liam Wren-Lewis


The distribution of land in Malawi is highly unequal and frequently inefficient. Large areas of land are underutilized in a context where many Malawian farmers would be able to put such land to productive use. In this context, the Malawian government has been slow and ineffective in undertaking land reforms, despite large demand for change both from investors and the local population. This chapter explores the role that grabbing of land in Malawi plays in contributing to this situation. We focus on various forms of malpractice, corruption or opportunistic behaviours associated with land transfers. We begin by briefly setting out the history and context of land in Malawi, and then discuss various types of land grabbing that occur currently. We highlight the problems that this form of corruption leads to, before moving to consider policy suggestions for both the government and donors. Finally, we conclude by attempting to draw out any lessons that this example may teach us about corruption more generally.7.1BACKGROUND AND CONTEXTThe grabbing of land is not a new phenomenon in Malawi. Much of the current context around land is a result of previous land transfers that took place under colonial rule. The expropriation of land by white settlers was not as large as in Zimbabwe or South Africa, but, by the time Malawi had acquired independence in 1964, Europeans had acquired ësome of the most fertile and well-watered landsí (PCILPR, 1998: 29).

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