President Lazarus Chakwera has described the three-day State visit of his Mozambican counterpart Felipe Nyusi as a historical achievement in the relations between Malawi and Mozambique.
Chakwera, speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe yesterday during a briefing at the end of Nyusi’s visit, said it is historical for the two countries’ presidents to stand on the same podium in friendly terms “without tension”.
He said: “A Mozambican President standing side by side with a Malawian President on Malawian soil and on friendly terms is a historical milestone and credit goes to Your Excellency for your solidarity and leadership in seeing that this history is made to unmake all past and future obstacles to the warm camaraderie between our sibling nations.”
In his statement, Nyusi said when Malawi connects its railway at Marka to the Sena Corridor from Vila Nova de Fronteira de Mark, the country will be transporting bulky cargo at a lower cost.
He said: “For instance, when this line is finally connected, Malawi can transport petroleum in bulk than what is happening at the moment and at a much lower cost. Benefits from this will trickle down to the common man. The same can be said about other commodities such as fertilisers.”
Nyusi said reduced transport costs will also translate to low cost of fertiliser, thereby having a direct impact on Malawi’s agro-based economy.
Chakwera expressed his gratitude for the bilateral relationship, saying: “I am delighted that our cooperation is backed by the legal instruments our two governments have just signed, in particular, the Revised Bilateral Trade Agreement and the One Stop Border Post Agreement which will simplify, harmonise and expedite border controls and enhance trade facilitation between our two countries.”
Besides the bilateral agreements, Chakwera and Nyusi also launched the power interconnection project between Malawi and Mozambique to supply an initial 50 megawatts (MW) to the Malawi national electricity grid.
During former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration, Mozambique boycotted the launch of Nsanje World Inland Port which Mutharika wanted to connect to the Indian Ocean port of Chinde using Shire and Zambezi rivers, a distance of 238 kilometres.
Mozambique demanded a feasibility study and blocked a trial barge that carried cargo for the launch.
Commenting on the power interconnection, energy expert Grain Malunga said the 50MW will have the potential of boosting the country’s mining sector.
He said there were several mining projects failing to take off due to inadequate power supply.
Said Malunga: “There are also niobium mines that may take-off in two years which will require 15 megawatts. In Phalombe, we have rare earth mines. The mining sector is so restricted to develop because of insufficient energy.”
On bilateral relations, former Malawi High Commissioner to Mozambique, Martin Kansichi, said the openness of the Tonse Alliance administration has opened new opportunities for Malawi. He described Nyusi as an open person.
He said: “I learned when I was an ambassador in Mozambique and President Nyusi was Minister of Defence that he was quite an open person who was clearly for peaceful coexistence between Malawi and Mozambique and this has, if I may say, clicked well with the openness of the current government.”
Kansichi earlier said Mozambique has always wanted to be the country’s best bilateral friend in recent years, but Malawi was not forthcoming due to political reasons.
He said over the years, Malawi has lost out in terms of joint infrastructure development with Mozambique because of the difference in policy direction.
In an earlier interview, University of Malawi political analyst Mustafa Hussein observed that Malawi has not enjoyed a healthy bilateral relationship with Mozambique since founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s time when he had strained relations with his Mozambique counterpart Samora Machel.
He said: “There has been a lukewarm relationship over the past years, but now with the visit of President Nyusi, it signifies a new era.”
Hussein said historically, the Sena Corridor from Mozambique to Malawi through Nsanje has been famous for people trekking to work in mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He added that the people also speak almost the same languages such as Chichewa, Sena and Mang’anja.
The two leaders have also agreed to strengthen the Malawi-Mozambique Joint Permanent Cmmission for Cooperation.and that its meetings be held regularly.