LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi is in the verge of being blacklisted for failing to meet United Nations Education Scientific Commission (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Centre (WHC) deadline submission of the Lake Malawi status report which was slated for February 1, 2017.
The country’s failure for the exercise comes barely six months after WHC in July 2016 demanded a comprehensive report on its stand for oil exploration in the Lake Malawi.
The world natural resources conservation body even went further warning government of its ambition to explore oil and gas in Lake Malawi saying the nation risked to lose international status on conservation.
WHC’s latter dated July 29, 2016 signed by its Director, Matchild Rossler who is also the Secretary of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) wrote Malawi Diplomat Change de affairs Joseph Chiteyeye in Belgium telling him that the 40th Session of WHC held in Istanbul in 2016 studied the status of conservation of Lake Malawi National Park as a property of the centre.
The latter went further expressing concerns over oil exploration activities in the lake observing that accidental spills and discharges would pose potential hazard to the entire aquatic life.
The body therefore urged the country’s leadership to cancel the oil exploration permit with those tasked for the exercise hence the demand for the report by February 2017.
The requested report requires that Malawi gives an update on the state of conservation of the property and implementation to be examined further by WHC at its 42nd Second in 2018.
But Bright Msaka, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining sounded alarm with the development and disputed claims that Malawi ignored WHC letter.
Msaka insisted to The Maravi Post that the ministry has not yet been furnished with the said warning over the lake’s oil exploration apart from hearing the news in the media.
“I have never seen this communication. Therefore, I would like to assure Malawians that nothing bad will happen. We are taking care of the lake not because its World Heritage Centre site but because the lake is Malawians’ treasure. WHC won’t love the lake more than us,” said Msaka.
“Oil exploration will not affect the safety of the lake because there are technologies that are used during such operations to protect the environment”, assures Msaka.
Environmentalists have therefore taken a swipe at the Minister Msaka adamant on exploration move accusing him of neglecting technical advice on the matter.
Godfrey Mfiti, Executive Director for Institute of Sustainable Development (ISD), who has been critical on the exploration exercise, has predicted disaster in the near future if government will proceed with the idea saying rural livelihoods along the lakeshore are expected to be lost in the process.
Malawi is a signatory to the 1972 World Heritage Convention that seeks to ensure an appropriate and equitable balance between conservation, sustainability and development.
Meanwhile, in a twist of event after Malawi and Tanzania governments signed a Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) agreement, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Augustine Mahinga on Monday this week told President Peter Mutharika in the face that part of Lake Malawi belongs to Tanzania, which is called “Lake Nyasa”.
The Tanzania’s Minister hinted that the old map, drawn before Malawi got its independence from the British, clearly shows a good chunk of the waters of the lake belong to Tanzania