Malawi Government has appealed for a peaceful boundary re-affirmation exercise between Malawi and Mozambique, saying despite the imaginary borderline that separates the two countries, Malawians and Mozambicans remain one.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Anna Kachikho, made the appeal on Thursday at Nkopola Holiday Resort in Mangochi when she opened a three-day meeting by senior government officials from the two countries aimed at reviewing the boundary re-demarcation exercise and setting terms of reference for the same.
The meeting is a follow-up of the one held by the two countries’ Foreign Affairs ministers in Maputo, Mozambique on April 2, this year (2018) where it was recommended that officials from the two sides meet for the review and terms of reference for the re-demarcation exercise.
Kachikho said when discussing issues concerning the borderline between Malawi and Mozambique, officials from the two sides should always remember the common aspects and the bilateral relations that always exist between people of the two nations.
“We are brothers and sisters but only separated by an imaginary line called an international boundary created by colonial administrators in the 1890s in air-conditioned offices in London and Lisbon,” said Kachikho.
She added: “Do not forget in your discussions that we are one people and our governments have entrusted you to fulfill the agreements reached in Maputo that you should review the boundary re-affirmation exercise and also come up with Terms of Reference (ToRs).”
Kachikho said the ToRs would, among other things, ensure continued cooperation between the two countries and smooth completion of the remaining activities of the boundary re-affirmation exercise.
She also said the ToRs would ensure that the two countries’ local communities living along the boundary re-affirmation exercise live in peace and harmony.
The Mozambican President for National Institute for Sea and Boundaries, Manuel Ferrao, who is among the officials attending the review meeting, noted that it was common for border re-affirmation exercises to cause problems, noting that it was important to find lasting peaceful solutions.
Ferrao said it was important for the people of the two sides to understand that the exercise was not about re-demarcating the two countries but rather re-affirming the existing boundaries as per African Union’s recommendations.
“It is about re-affirming and clarifying the border with new beacons and it’s true that in the course of the exercise, problems are likely to occur,” explained Ferrao.
“But what is important is that all incidents are reported to the relevant authorities for solution within the framework of the joint cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
On the meeting’s agenda is a visit to Makanjira where officials from the two countries are expected to address chiefs, security agents and the communities living along both sides of the borderline on the exercise, to ensure that peace and harmony prevail.
The re-affirmation exercise, which started in 2008, left seven Malawian villages under four Group Village Headmen in Makanjira on the Mozambican side, a development that has, over the years, seen growing conflicts between the local people on both sides of the border.
The situation worsened in December 2017 when Mozambican Police shot dead a Malawian man and injured another at Mkwapiti Village allegedly for trespassing, a development that left Malawians along the border to live in fear