Taxpayers are being lined up to foot the $350 000 (about K156 million) contribution to the Forum of Former Heads of State and Government mediating the Lake Malawi border dispute.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume said in an interview yesterday that Malawi has already contributed $100 000 (about K44.6 million).
He was reacting to media reports in Tanzania which claimed that Malawi has contributed only $50 000 dollars, which is just 6.6 percent of the $761 016 required for mediation on the border dispute with Tanzania.
But Chiume said the assertion as reported in the Tanzanian media was not true, clarifying that the initial budget was pegged at $1.5 million, but some costs were reduced.
He said: “The budget is around $1 million. UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] contributed $250 000 towards the process and each country was supposed to contribute 50 percent of the remainder. We have already paid $100 000. We are committed to paying our part.”
Chiume added that the money is not paid upfront because it is required on need basis as requested by the Forum of Former Heads of State and Government which is headed by former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, who is leading a forum of former presidents in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
The Daily News
(www.dailynews.co.tz) in Tanzania on Tuesday reported that during the ongoing session of the National Assembly in that country, it was revealed that Tanzania has paid $387 336 which is eight times more than Malawi Government.
The online publication reported that Malawi and Tanzania were each supposed to contribute $761 016 dollars for mediation on the border dispute on the third largest lake in Africa.
It quoted Juma Nkamia, a member of Parliament of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party when he tabled a report of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The committee is led by former prime minister who is now Monduli MP, Edward Lowassa (CCM).
At the heart of the dispute is the border line on Lake Malawi. Tanzania maintains that the border is at the middle of the lake while Malawi claims whole ownership of the lake save for a portion it shares with Mozambique.
The two countries are currently waiting for a meeting to be called next year by the mediators after considering responses to four questions, among them, on legal implications of the acceptance by either party of the importance of the lake to the local populations, said Chiume.