President Lazarus Chakwera says cases of encroachment on Malawi and Zambia should not be a cause for concern as people of the two countries are one despite the colonial boundary that separates them.
A recent boundary re-affirmation exercise between the two countries revealed that there is encroachment between the two countries, with Malawi’s public infrastructure such as schools, farm land and part of the M1 being in Zambia’s territory while some of Zambia infrastructure also are domicile in Malawi.
Speaking at Kamuzu International Airport on arrival from Zambia where he held talks with Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Chakwera said his discussion with his Zambian counterpart touched on the boundary issue, but he could not outline the details.
He said: “People can choose to live where they are living without minding the boundary. After all, they are brothers and sisters and have lived together even before the boundary was demarcated several years ago.”
The President said this is one of the issues that the joint permanent commission on peace between the two countries will be looking into “so that everybody is secure because we are people who love peace”.
Last year, the Department of Surveys issued a report of the boundary re-affirmation exercise Malawi and Zambia undertook for eight years, which established that the two countries encroached on each other’s land.
The report suggested a number of solutions, including an agreement between the two countries to allow people continue living as they are now or re-demarcate the boundary.
Malawi has similar challenges with Mozambique, according to the report. With Tanzania, the report states, the re-affirmation exercise has stalled due to the unresolved Lake Malawi dispute.
The Zambia trip was Chakwera’s first foreign visit since assuming office 86 days ago.
The President said he has also invited his Zambian counterpart on a State visit to Malawi.
He left yesterday morning and returned in the afternoon on a Malawian Airlines chartered plane.
At the airport, the old tradition was observed where the President was seen off and welcomed by political party supporters, most of whom defied Covid-19 guidelines such as social distancing and wearing of masks. Chiefs and several ministers were there, too, to welcome the Malawi leader.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima was also there and he self-drove to and from the airport, a departure from the norm where vice-presidents are usually chauffeur-driven.