Malawi has sent a second diplomatic cable to Tanzania, protesting that country’s publication of a new map last year which includes parts of the disputed Lake Malawi border.
Foreign Affairs Minister George Chaponda confirmed to Nation on Sunday in an exclusive interview this week that Lilongwe has once again, sent a strong-worded protest to the Tanzanian government after publication of the latest official map of Tanzania.
The Joyce Banda-led administration also protested attempts by Tanzania to redraw the border.
Chaponda, however, seeking no further escalation of the wrangle, said Malawi government believes the action to redraw the map was taken by “one high-handed official” in the Tanzanian government.
Said the minister: “We were supposed to meet in July in Maputo, but we had to postpone and we have requested an urgent meeting.
“I also want to say, that we were very much concerned that some high-handed official decided to publicise maps which shows the dividing line as at the median line which they are claiming, we have already sent a letter of protest because when we engaged the Tanzanians in the mediation process, we agreed that the status quo will remain the same.”
He said the letter was sent last month.
Chaponda further said the two countries will still pursue mediation as a way of ending the misunderstanding of the border line, but emphasised Malawi’s unwavering belief that its claims, based on the Heligoland treaty that established colonial States, was the correct interpretation of both international law and general laws governing treaties.
“The latest of the matter is that this government inherited a policy by the PP [People’ Party] government, if it were Peter Mutharika’s government, we could not have adopted the mediation policy. We want to speed up the process to have the final verdict,” he said.
Chaponda said Malawi will have to wait and see if new Tanzanian President John Magufuli will pursue same policies on the matter as his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete, saying so far, it was difficult to tell.
He further clarified that the proposal for resource sharing was not a final resolution from mediators as previously indicated, adding the position of the current administration is that while Lilongwe welcomes resource sharing as the two countries have always done, the issue of the boundary is not negotiable.
Tanzanian High Commission in Lilongwe on Friday asked for more time to get information on the matter from Dodoma, but was yet to respond as we went to press.
Tanzanian government spokesperson could not pick the call yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit Report, which advises investors and governments on business environment, warns the relations between Malawi and Tanzania will remain difficult but rules out potential armed conflict.
“Relations with Tanzania will remain strained by the dispute over the countries’ border in Lake Malawi, though we expect it to be resolved diplomatically, with resource-sharing currently under negotiation. Relations with South Africa may also come under pressure as the South African government toughens its stance on migrant workers, many of whom are Malawian,” reports the Intelligence group in its December 29 2015 generated issue. n