The Malawi Institute of Surveyors (MIS) says the boundary dispute with Tanzania over Lake Malawi cannot be resolved in the absence of the colonial map for the two countries.
MSI president Downs Theka said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that it is unfortunate that politics has dominated the talks when technocrats are supposed to be at the centre-stage.
Theka argued the disagreement between Lilongwe and Dodoma is â€œsimple and straight forwardâ€ and that it needs technocrats from the two countries, especially surveyors, to study the 1890 map to determine the boundary.
Malawi and Tanzania are embroiled in misunderstandings over the boundary between them, after Malawi recently categorically said it owns the entire lake.
An 1890 Anglo-German Agreement signed between Britain and Germany as colonial powers stipulates the boundary between the two countries as lying along the Tanzanian shore of the lake.
In the thick of the dispute, the two governments have been engaged in talks which are spearheaded by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Justice.
Theka said since the two sides are failing to compromise as each country is sticking to its position, there is need for the authorities to fish out maps for the technocrats to interpret.
â€œHistory cannot determine the issue but both sides have to produce maps of their respective countries as determined by the colonial powers in 1890 and the land surveyors can easily tell where the boundary is,â€ said Theka.
He said: â€œThe issue of the boundary is mostly a technical one and the Ministry of Lands should be responsible. As such, boundaries have to be discussed with the support of maps. Without maps, you canâ€™t discuss a boundary issue. So, surveyors are the ones who can interpret boundary issues.
Said Theka: â€œYou do not have to fight over this issue and there is not even a need to go to the International Court of Justice. Even if you go to this court, it cannot determine the boundary without the support of maps.â€
A senior government official on Wednesday agreed with the surveyors, that in an ideal situation, the Ministry of Lands could have been leading the talks since the issue falls under its jurisdiction.
But in an interview on Wednesday, Malawiâ€™s Minister of Lands and Housing Henry Phoya was noncommittal on the issues raised by the institute of surveyors while supporting the diplomacy route taken by the two governments.
â€œMy own position is that what was required at the initial state was to give diplomacy a chance and the leading ministries for both countries where there is need for diplomacy are ministries of Foreign Affairs.
â€œWe do have those colonial maps and in fact they formed part of the basis of our position as Malawi in so far as this matter is concerned,â€ said the minister.