Malawian taxpayers should brace toÂ dig deeper into their pockets to finance costs associated with referring StateÂ disputes to the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) should dialogue fail inÂ the Lake Malawi border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.
Â In anÂ interview this week, principal secretary for Foreign Affairs and InternationalÂ Cooperation Patrick Kabambe said referring the dispute to ICJ in the HagueÂ would not be cheap for both Malawi and Tanzania as the countries may beÂ required to hire special lawyers and pay some fees for the courtâ€™s sittings.Â â€œICJÂ is not cheap. Every time the court is sitting, there are some fees which theÂ State parties pay.
You also need to hire special lawyers,â€ said Kabambe.Â MalawiÂ and Tanzania are currently engaged in talks to diplomatically resolve theÂ dispute through negotiation or other forms of resolution, including mediationÂ or involvement of the African Union (AU) Panel of the Wise.Â ButÂ Kabambe insisted Malawiâ€™s final position on the matter is to refer the disputeÂ to the world court because the dispute is legal in nature as the two countriesÂ are disagreeing on interpretation of a treaty.
Â â€œWeÂ recognise that referring the dispute to ICJ is not cheap,â€ said Kabambe, addingÂ that ICJ would be the â€œquickestâ€ route to resolve the boundary dispute on theÂ lake.Â AskedÂ how much government expects to spend when the dispute goes to the UN court, he
said: â€œThatâ€™s what we are working on right now, but we have not come to theÂ point of calculating actual figures.â€Â LastÂ week, some inside sources in the Tanzanian delegation to the second round ofÂ talks with Malawi in Mzuzu and Lilongwe also confided in Weekend Nation that
referring the dispute to ICJ would not be cheap for both countries.Â â€œItÂ is a very expensive route for both countries because there are huge costs whichÂ both countries have to meet to participate in that court,â€ said a seniorÂ Tanzanian government official.Â Justice
Link executive director Justin Dzonzi, however, said countries do not pay feesÂ for the court to sit, but would bear the costs of engaging their own judges toÂ participate in the case.Â â€œRulesÂ themselves say nothing about payment of any fees to the court. However, a
country may opt to hire its own judge. It is the cost of those ad hoc judgesÂ that are paid by countries that hire them.
â€œInÂ this case, costs would be in form of flights to Hague, accommodation and otherÂ expenses. The permanent judges of the UN court are paid by the court itself,â€Â said Dzonzi.Â HeÂ also said while there are lawyers who have specialised as agents to take upÂ matters before the UN court, it is not compulsory for countries to hire themÂ when referring their disputes to the court.Â â€œYou also have people who are called advocates. These areÂ lawyers who have appeared before the ICJ [previously]. These again are notÂ compulsory. Malawi can take its own lawyers even from here,â€ said Dzonzi.Â He,Â however, said the benefits derived from the lake far outweigh any costs thatÂ Malawi would incur to resolve the border dispute on the lake through the worldÂ court.Â â€œTheÂ value of the lake is so huge that spending a few million of kwachas on theÂ issue should be looked at as investment, especially when you also consider thatÂ there might be oil in the lake.Â
â€œEvenÂ without oil, the value of the lake is still huge when you consider the fish andÂ everything else,â€ said Dzonzi.Â WhileÂ Malawi says the 1890 Heligoland Treaty between Britain and Germany gave it theÂ whole lake, Tanzania argues it owns half of it because common international law
stipulates that water bodies separating countries must be shared equally.Â
to summon Ombudsman againâ€™
Chairperson of the Public Appointments Committee of
Parliament Nick Masebo on Thursday said Parliament would resummon Ombudsman
Tujilane Chizumila to appear before the committee to respond to claims of abuse
of office, nepotism and corruption against her.
July, Chizumila failed to appear before the committee when it summoned her
according to parliamentary standing orders.
whether the committee would resummon Chizumila on the matter, Masebo in an
interview said: â€œVery much so. That would be done when the committee meets
challenge is that when the committee is sitting for one week and you miss one
activity in that week, it becomes difficult to fix that activity within that
said Parliament directly oversees the functioning of the Office of the
Ombudsman; hence, his committee is crucial in addressing any issues that would
affect the performance of the public office.
matter cannot just be dropped. Much as the committee has mandate to make a
decision without hearing the other party when the party does not turn up after
been summoned, we have not concluded that matter,â€ he said.
June this year, three Ombudsman members of staff wrote the committee, Speaker
Henry Chimunthu Banda and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ralph
Kasambara, alleging that Chizumila was nepotistic when employing staff and
abusing her office.
later interdicted the three, Yohane Sambakunsi, Stanley Gome and Phillip Banda,
saying they demonstrated alleged misconduct ranging from violation of the
officeâ€™s code of ethics and breach of procedures in the Ombudsman Act.
what progress her office has made to resolve the internal grievances, Chizumila
on Thursday refused to comment and referred Weekend Nation to the executive
secretary in the Office of the Ombudsman Ellos Lodzeni.
cannot talk because I will not be following procedures. Those people did not
follow procedures. There is an internal grievance handling body which is
working on that issue,â€ said Chizumila.
also refused to comment on whether she would appear before the parliamentary
committee when she is summoned again, insisting that Weekend
Nationtalk to Lodzeni.
also refused to comment and referred Weekend Nation to their spokesperson
Patrick Maulidi who said they do not expect the committee to summon Chizumila
again over the matter because Parliament wrote them that the matter
should be resolved
within the Office of the Ombudsman