Lake Malawi Ownership Non Negotiable: Foreign Affairs Minister Updates The Nation On The Lake Issue
Malawi government has bemoaned tactics by the Republic of Tanzania in frustrating mediation talks over Lake Malawi boundary dispute.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over the Lake of Malawi with Tanzania insisting it owns part of the lake which they call Lake Nyasa.
Malawi and Tanzania were expected to return to the negotiation table weeks ago precisely on 8th and 9th May, in Johannesburg, South Africa only for Tanzania to put off the talks.
President Peter Mutharika initiated the resumption of the talks following his meeting with his Tanzanian counterpart the popular President John Pombe Magufuli earlier t
In a statement issued on Saturday and signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francis Kasaila said government was concerned with Tanzania’s action, saying the postponement protracts the conclusion of the matter.
“His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and the Chairperson of the High Level Mediation Team (HLMT), invited the governments of Malawi and Tanzania to resume the mediation talks which were scheduled to take place from 8th to 9th May, 2017.
“Malawi confirmed its participation after consultations with Tanzania. However, on 4th May, 2017, the Government of Malawi received communication on the postponement of the meeting by the Chairperson of the HLMT at the instance of the Government of Tanzania,” explained Kasaila.
Kasaila also said that government was astounded with the recent media statement attributed to Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Malawi, Victoria Mwakasege that her government wants to have a share of the oil resources which has never been Tanzania’s position since the dispute started.
He expressed hope that the High Level Mediation Team (HLMT) will manage to resolve the matter which has been dragging since 2012.
“The government of Malawi continues to be committed to the Mediation Process and peaceful resolution of the dispute through contact and dialogue. Malawi believes that the HLMT has the capacity to decisively make a determination on the dispute, in a logical and timely manner, and on the basis of long established principles,” he added.
President Peter Mutharika recently insisted national boundaries should never be an excuse for division.
Mutharika in his speech during the opening the 4th ordinary session of Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, called African countries to desist from inciting conflicts against each other due to boundaries.
He said in Resolution 17(1) of the First Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, all member states solemnly pledged and declared “to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.”
“The most outstanding of those forefathers was Julius Nyerere who sponsored the resolution and led Tanzania in playing an active role in respecting the territorial integrity we inherited from colonialism. Paradoxically, our unity lies in the borders that divide us. On 6th March 1997, in Accra, the founding President of Tanzania, Nyere himself, said we must continue respecting the borders we found because “without unity, there is no future for Africa.”
The mediation process between the two countries was approved by the Council of Ministers of the governments of Malawi and Tanzania on 17th November, 2012, and the two governments agreed to engage the HLMT, chaired by Joaquim Chissano. Other members of the team include South Africa former President, Thabo Mbeki, and Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana.
The HLMT convened the first mediation talks from 20th to 21st March, 2014, in Maputo, Mozambique, where Malawi and Tanzania submitted their respective positions. Malawi’s position is that the boundary is the shoreline of Lake Malawi as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty.
According to Malawi, it owns Lake Malawi in its entirety. On the other hand, Tanzania claims that the boundary is the median line of the Lake based on principles of customary international law.
The HLMT once proposed that the parties should consider how they can jointly exploit and share the resources found in Lake Malawi, before establishing the position of the boundary between the two countries. The HLMT was of the view that through the benefits accrued in the process, the boundary dispute would eventually be resolved.
However, both Malawi and Tanzania delegations did not agree with the HLMT on the proposal and reaffirmed that the boundary issue be resolved first.