While giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act and is subject to trial by court, corruption is an ongoing issue at all levels in Madagascar. No sector is immune, but it is most pervasive when dealing with the judiciary, police, tax, customs, land, and the mining industry.
Madagascar’s anti-corruption legislation, updated in 2016, mandated the establishment of the Independent Anticorruption Office (BIANCO) and the Committee for Safeguarding Integrity (CSI). BIANCO enforces the anti-corruption law while CSI monitors the implementation of the national anticorruption strategy. The anti-corruption courts (PAC) were established in 2018 to hear all corruption-related cases – including economic and financial crimes – after an investigation by BIANCO or the gendarmerie. There are supposed to be PACs throughout the country; the first PAC was set up in the capital and the second became operational in Mahajanga in October 2020; the set-up of the third PAC in Fianarantsoa is underway. Madagascar also has a Financial Intelligence Unit (SAMIFIN) to carry out research and financial analysis related to money laundering. Transparency International Initiative Madagascar (TI-IM) has an office in the country working here since 2002. TI-IM, BIANCO, SAMIFIN, Police and Gendarmerie collaborate closely to bring cases to the courts.
The Rajoelina administration has prosecuted some major corruption cases. In 2019, 5461 cases were charged, 1441 individuals investigated, 639 arrested, and 155 jailed for pre-trial detention.
The long-awaited Illicit Asset Recovery law was passed by ordinance in 2019. Subsequently, the CSI, BIANCO, and SAMIFIN initiated the development of the draft implementing decree, specifically on the establishment of the Agency for the Recovery of Illicit Assets. This ordinance will allow the country to properly manage confiscated assets at both the national and international level. However, in 2020 members of parliament introduced legislation that would weaken the anti-corruption system by limiting the mandates of PAC judges, reducing areas of jurisdiction for the PAC, and repealing the illicit asset seizure decree. The legislation remains pending before the Senate.
There is no requirement for companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials. Both the anti-corruption law and the penal code prohibit any individual/enterprise from giving money, presents, or other gifts to public officials to obtain advantages they are not entitled to. The law also provides that any private enterprise that commits corrupt practices to obtain a permit, license or authorization is excluded from government procurement. Furthermore, according to the law, any license, authorization, or permit issued illegally through corruption is void.
Both Article 31 of the 2016 anti-corruption law and Article 182 of the penal code require that any conflicts of interest concerning a public official should be declared to the supervising authority. Failure to do so can lead to between six months to two years of imprisonment, a fine varying from MGA 1,000,000 (eq. USD 270) to MGA 50,000,000 (eq. USD 13,500) or both. There is limited information on companies using internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials. However, some foreign companies have begun to orient their internal control, ethics, and compliance programs to prevent bribery, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits U.S. firms from engaging in such behavior.
Madagascar ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption, as well as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, in 2004. Madagascar also joined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol against corruption in 2007 but has not yet signed the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transaction.
NGOs and associations are involved in governance and anti-corruption projects. The law does not have any explicit provisions protecting NGOs and associations. A Transparency International report states that although many associations and NGOs exist on paper, their actions are limited in terms of impact, especially in terms of playing a watchdog or advocacy role concerning government institutions. Environmental activists have been harassed and threatened by various means. The government, however, does not target them directly.
In general, the private sector identifies corruption as an obstacle to investment. The IMF country report on Madagascar published in 2017 indicates that corruption affects the business climate in Madagascar. Forty percent of those surveyed expected to give gifts “to get things done”, or to get an operating license, or to secure a government contract. Moreover, 30 percent of the surveyed firms expected to give gifts in meeting tax officials and were required to make an informal payment or experienced a bribe payment request. Similarly, more than 75% of Malagasy stated that corruption had increased in Madagascar over the past year, according to the 2019 Afro barometer Survey, with 44% of Malagasy believing that police and gendarmes are involved in corruption and 39% believing the same of judges and magistrates. BIANCO fared better with respect to the public’s trust, with 87% believing it is somewhat or very probable that BIANCO will take action if they report an act of corruption. Nevertheless, of these respondents, 70% believe that regular citizens are at risk of retaliation if they report this. For exporters, many products require documentation linked to regulatory controls and this process can require a significant amount of time, costs, and possibly bribes. Aside from the routine demands for a quid pro quo, close ties between business and political elites also present barriers to entry for newcomers to the field.
BIANCO has set up a secure platform to allow whistleblowers to remain anonymous and to submit sensitive information securely, using encryption and respecting data transmission and processing. The government plans to roll out a communication campaign to introduce this online tool which allows citizens to provide authorities with information about corruption.
Despite the measures introduced to combat corruption and smuggling, Madagascar’s vulnerabilities in this regard were exposed in early January 2021 when South African authorities arrested three Madagascar nationals with 73.5 kg of gold at Johannesburg airport. The men were enroute from Antananarivo to Dubai; so far, the GOM has had no success in persuading the South African government to extradite either the gold or the detainees to Madagascar.
Resources to Report Corruption
Bureau Indépendant Anti-Corruption (Bianco)
Name: Mr. Laza Eric Donat Andrianirina
Title: General Manager
Organisation: Independent Bureau Anti-Corruption (Bianco)
Address: Villa “La Piscine”, Ambohibao, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Po Box 399
Telephone Number: +261 20 22 489 79 / +261 20 22 489 93 / +261 33 02 002 99
Email Address: Bianco.Dg@Moov.Mg; Contact@Bianco-Mg.Mg;
Transparency International-Initiative Madagascar (Ti-Im)
Name: Mr. Solofo Rakotoseheno
Title: Chairperson Of Ti-Im
Organisation: Transparency International Initiative, Madagascar (Ti-Im)
Address: Villa Huguette (Rdc), Lot Ii U86 Cite Planton, Ampahibe, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Telephone Number: +261 20 22 288 73; +261 34 96 418 79
Email Address: Contact@Transparency.Mg; Communication@Transparency.Mg
Sehatra Fanaraha-Maso Ny Fiainam-Pirenena (Sefafi) – Observatory Of Public Life
Name: Mrs. Sahondra Rabenarivo
Organization: Sehatra Fanaraha-Maso Ny Fiainam-Pirenena (Sefafi)
Address: Lot Iiim33k, Andrefan’ambohijanahary, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Telephone Number: +261 32 59 761 62
Email Address: Sefafi@Gmail.Com;
Name: Desire Razafindrazaka
Title: Team Leader
Organization: Afrobarometer, Madagascar Office C/O Coef Resources
Address: Po Box 4075, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Telephone Number: +261 20 22 283 82
Email Address: Coef-Re@Moov.Mg;