Several years back, I had commented in this newspaper on the border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania on Lake Malawi or Lake Nyassa as Mozambique and Tanzania would like to call it. In fact, I have commented on this issue twice, once when I heard that the Tanzania Parliament was discussing their map which was showing Lake Nyassa as theirs. I had also commented on the ownership several years ago when I learnt that Malawi, under Bakili Muluzi, was about to sign some sort of agreement with Mozambique and Tanzania on how the lake ought to be shared. I do not know the specific details but I will give you the details that I know.
It was the time when the late Dumbo Lemani was Minister of Water Development. A tripartite meeting between the governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania was organised in Tanzania. The meeting was to discuss issues pertaining to Lake Malawi. The Late Lemani had already gone to Tanzania, and it seemed he was not so much aware of the complexities of the meeting he was attending or what he was supposed to be doing in Tanzania. By chance, some people realised that the meeting in Tanzania could have resulted in the minister being duped into signing what seemed to be giving away certain rights of the ownership of the Lake. It is upon noting this that a Malawian lawyer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, currently serving as the Deputy Ambassador in Ethiopia, Ernest Mungo Makawa, was dispatched in haste to Dar es Salam in order to support and prevent Lemani from signing things he was not aware about.
While the specifics of the case may be debatable, the fact that Makawa travelled to Tanzania to join the Malawi team that was â€˜discussingâ€™ Lake Malawi with Mozambique and Tanzania cannot be disputed. The government of Joyce Banda could benefit from getting the reports and all minutes of the meetings then. As we know and agree and there should be no doubt, Mozambique owns a section of Lake Malawi. Because it is theirs, they choose to call is Lake Nyassa. We own the rest. That Tanzania has a part of Lake Malawi is probably in their mind.
Let me come to the next point. It is now that Tanzania has started talking about oil exploration on Lake Malawi. If Lake Malawi was theirs, it would not make sense to question them as to when they wanted to talk about their lake. But talk about oil exploration in Malawi has just not started now. It started a long time ago in the life of Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s presidency. I am sorry to say this, but I propose that among the reasons the Tanzanians seem to willing to annoy us is the type of leadership that we are demonstrating.
We are all the more willing to appear as if we can be pushed over left right and centre. I do not intend to glorify the Bingu arrogance; but I can suggest Tanzania was not even thinking of raising the Lake Malawi issue because they very well knew, Bingu was the type we call “One Wire.”