Impact Assessment of the Law Enforcement Response to Cashgate`: Media Analysis

Research output: Other contribution


The ‘Impact Assessment of the Law Enforcement Response to Cashgate’, commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development in Malawi and led by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies in 2016 and 2017, answers the questions ‘whether, and to what extent, punishing those responsible for high-profile corruption scandals has a deterrent effect on those that remain working within the system’. It specifically examines the extent to which the law enforcement’s response to Cashgate has had a deterrent effect on public officials in Malawi, allowing a generalisation on causal relationship between punishment and deterrent effects beyond the context of Cashgate. This media analysis, using literature review, content and discourse analysis, considers what and how information about Cashgate and the punishment of individuals is conveyed to understand if this may have a deterrent effect. Data was collected from print and online media, with some reference to social media. It also analyses perceptions around the law enforcement response that may, both positively and negatively, affect deterrence, such as, if the arrest, charging, prosecution, and sentencing are deemed swift or slow, or politically influenced or not. The key areas include, impunity and selective justice, the swiftness of law enforcement response, the severity and type of punishment, the law enforcement response generally and other sanctioning responses (non-law enforcement). It finds that Malawi’s media and social media largely question the effectiveness of the law enforcement response to Cashgate given perceived selective justice, impunity for the ‘big fish’, the slow pace, and varying severity of punishments. Media articles that cover the cases and sentencing, providing commentary on the consequences of Cashgate and perhaps, in themselves, may contribute to deterrence by naming and shaming those involved and warning of some form of punishment for some. It recommends specialist training for journalists on governance and rule of law, improved information sharing by law enforcement agencies, alongside support for media house and CSO collaboration and collective action.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


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