LILONGWE—Pres Joyce Banda met with political leaders and academics in Lilongwe on Tuesday to discuss the dispute over Lake Malawi with Tanzania ahead of her meeting with her counterpart Jakaya Kikwete.
“I leave for Mozambique tomorrow where I have requested meetings with my fellow Head of State. I believe you are a critical group as political leaders whose input can feed into such meetings,” said Banda.
She said the two leaders would meet during a two-day summit of the Southern African Development Community which kicks off Friday.
Veteran politician John Tembo praised Banda for the Tuesday meeting.
“I am very happy we were invited. We were hardly consulted or invited here in the past. This is something new and refreshing,” said Tembo who the country's oldest party, MCP.
In a bid to map the way forward concerning the territorial dispute of the borders of Malawi and Tanzania, Banda said Malawi and Tanzania were brothers and sisters and would not go to war against each other.
The Malawi-Tanzania dispute over the lake border follows the awarding of an oil exploration license to UK-based Surestream Petroleum last October to search for oil and gas in Lake Malawi, which is also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.
Warning the 50-year-old territorial dispute between the two countries could escalate if significant oil and gas discoveries are made in the lake, Tanzania has asked Malawi to put on hold the exploration exercise until the border dispute, in which it claims portion of the lake, is resolved, a stand Malawi disputes claiming total sovereignty of the whole lake.
Malawi’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister earlier in the month said the whole lake, based on the Heligoland Treaty of 1890, belonged to Malawi.
The Heligoland Treaty was agreed between Malawi’s colonial rulers, United Kingdom, and Germany, administrators of Tanzania.
The minister said the agreement defined the borders of the two countries as being the edge of the waters on the eastern shore of Lake Malawi.
At the Tuesday meeting hosted by Pres Banda, which lasted for four hours, historian Desmond Phiri and academic Prof. Brown Chimphamba joined the following leaders: Vice President Khumbo Kachali, Leader of the House in Parliament and Lands Minister Henry Phoya, Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Rachael Zulu.
From the opposition it was Tembo (Malawi Congress Party); Friday Jumbe, Dr. George Mtafu and Mahmud Lali (United Democratic Front); Gwanda Chakuamba (New Republican Party); Kamuzu Chibambo (People’s Transformation Party); Kamlepo Kalua (Malawi Democratic Party); Dindi Nyasulu (Alliance for Democracy) Wakuda Kamanga (DPP); Mark Katsonga (Peoples Progressive Movement) and George Mnesa (Mafunde).
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.