LILONGWE-(MaraviPost): –Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda, on Sunday called the nation to unite in restoring confidence over the ownership of Lake Malawi.
The call comes after the former President said she noticed that the current leadership in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was sarcastically accusing her regime for failing to tackle the Lake dispute with Tanzania.
In an interview the former President held on Zodiak radio’s Tuwuzeni Zoona program, the People’s Party (PP) leader emphasized the need for all Malawians to leave aside political differences, and to stand tall over the ownership of the Lake.
Former President Banda reminded the nation that the PP regime made all efforts to resolve the matter, but former heads of states handling the matter had betrayed the course.
The former President said she supports the idea of taking the Lake dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for determination.
She however, advised the DPP government to fully prepare for such a venture, and said that less preparation might result in Malawi losing the whole Lake to Tanzania.
“I don’t want to be dragged into any politics over the Lake dispute. Lake Malawi belongs to us. History supports us in totality. This is not the time to play politics over this matter. Let’s unite in defending what belongs to us,” the former President said.
“I am particularly concerned with the recent remarks by the Tanzania envoy seeking for their share on the oil exploration. This is a different matter all together, which means their claims for the Lake are on resources, which must not be entertained at all cost,” said Banda.
The former President thereafter, disclosed that she is coming to Malawi later this year at a date she did not disclose.
Earlier this month, Tanzania come out clearly that it wants shares of the oil exploration proceeds in Lake Malawi. Through its envoy in Malawi, the north east border neighbor went further and postponed the negotiation talks, which were slated for May 8-9, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Therefore the much anticipated negotiation talks between Malawi and Tanzania, over the ownership of the Lake, will not be resolved any time soon.
The development disappointed the Malawi Government, considering the resolve President Peter Mutharika and his Tanzania counterpart, John Pombe Magufuli, made for the resumption of the mediation talks when they met ?on January 30, this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The two leaders resolved that the mediation process on the Lake Malawi boundary dispute, be revived after a prolonged break since March 2014.
However, Malawi Government received communication on the postponement of the meeting from the High Level Mediation Team (HLMT) Chairperson, Joaquim Chissano, who is former President of the Republic of Mozambique.
The meeting’s postponement coincides with earlier accessions by Tanzania of its interest in oil exploration since 2012. At this time, Malawi’s north eastern border neighbor, started claiming that it owns half of the eastern part of Lake Malawi.
Malawi Foreign and International Cooperation minister, Francis Kasaila, expressed concerns over the pace of the talks, arguing that by now both nations could have known the fate on the matter.
Kasaila said that the Malawi Government intends to resolve the issue as soon as possible, consideration there are a number of development projects that are to take place on the Lake, including the oil exploration.
The Foreign Minister said Malawi Government position remains the same, that the boundary is the shoreline of Lake Malawi, as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty; therefore Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi in its entirety. This is despite Tanzania claims that the boundary is the median line of the Lake, based on principles of customary international law.
President Mutharika in April, took the country’s concerns of Lake Malawi to the Pan-African Parliament meeting in South Africa. In his flagship address he quotes the 1890 Heligoland Treaty (between Germany and Great Britain – current U.K.), that declared the Lake belonging to Nyasaland (former name of Malawi). President Mutharika also invoked the agreement in the 1964 Organization of African Unity treaty that emerging independent nation-states on the continent entered into; in the treaty, new nation states, were called to respect colonial borders they inherited from the colonial rulers.
President Mutharika said African countries have respected these treaties and therefore, called on his counterparts, to resist border disputes to bring disunity on the continent.