Tanzania President John Magufuli will pay a two-day visit to Malawi from Wednesday this week where, among other things, he will take part in the opening of the tobacco market season.
This will be Magufuli’s first official visit to Malawi since he was elected as the neighbouring country’s president in 2015.
Magufuli has made several State visits but has skipped Malawi even when the storm was brewing over the future of talks on the wrangle over Lake Malawi.
A press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirms the Magufuli visit but gives scanty details on the purpose.
“Apart from holding bilateral talks with President Peter Mutharika, His Excellency Dr Magufuli will open the 2019 tobacco market season at the Lilongwe Auction Floors on 25th April, 2019,” the statement reads.
The statement adds that full details of Magufuli’s visit would be announced later.
Commenting on the Magufuli visit at a rally at Kasungu Boma on Saturday, UTM Party president Saulos Chilima had praises for the Tanzania president, describing him as a man who is serious about fighting corruption.
In his four years in power, Magufuli’s style of leadership has elicited both admiration and condemnation, particularly from the West.
His tough stance against corruption and theft of public resources has been unpopular in Tanzania but he has made attempts to clean up the system by instituting payroll audits, firing errant ministers and heads of government agencies and recalling mining licences for a fresh review.
In the social sector, Magufuli has become unpopular for his stance on abortion and the banning of young mothers from returning to school after giving birth.
Mutharika and Magufuli have not held discussions as recommended by a High Level Mediation Team (HLMT) led by former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano and his South Africa counterpart Thabo Mbeki.
In 2017, the mediation team gave the two presidents three months to come to a final resolution after both countries stuck to their positions on the lake.
Malawi restated and re-affirmed its position that the Lake Malawi boundary between the two countries is the shoreline of the lake as established by Article 1(2) of the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty.
On the other hand, Tanzania is invoking the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea that stipulates that in cases where nations are separated by water bodies, the boundary lies in the middle of the water source. n