Malawiâ€™s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume has said careless talk can result in a stalemate or breakdown of talks with Tanzania on the current border dispute.
Chiume made the warning in the northern Malawi city of Mzuzu on Monday at the start of consultations between Malawi and Tanzania officials over the border issue.
Said Chiume during the opening ceremony: â€œIt is very easy for the discussions to break down and result in a stalemate because of careless statements. Let us avoid making statements that can undermine the process.â€
Technical delegates from Malawi and Tanzania are meeting at Mzuzu Hotel this week to find common grounds on their age-old border dispute over Lake Malawi.
The dispute resurfaced recently after Lilongwe commissioned a British company, SureStream, to explore oil on the lake. This sparked fears of war between the two countries but presidents Joyce Banda of Malawi and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania have allayed the fears, arguing they will pursue dialogue and diplomacy in sorting out the matter.
Malawi is being led by principal secretary for Foreign Affairs Patrick Kabambe while Dr. Selassie Daud Mayunga, director of surveys and mapping in Dodomaâ€™s Ministry of Lands, Housing and Settlements Development is heading the Tanzanian delegation.
Malawiâ€™s technical panel includes senior officers in the Malawi Defence Force, police and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
Chiume told the delegates they have a difficult task, which people from the two countries are patiently waiting for.
â€œThe people of Malawi and Tanzania have every confidence that this meeting will clear the misunderstanding on the border between our two countries once and for all. We cannot keep on talking about the same issue for over 40 years,â€ said Chiume.
He admitted the two countries have different views on the border and that there is need to find a common solution peacefully and professionally.
Said the minister: â€œYou will recall that when we met in Dar es Salaam on 27th and 28th July 2012, it became very apparent that our two countries have different positions on where the border should be. We also agreed that this difference should not be a source of anxiety and that we should let diplomacy find a solution to this difference, in points of view.â€
Mayunga reiterated that his government wants a peaceful solution to the matter.
From Monday to Wednesday, the deliberations will take place in Mzuzu. On Thursday, the delegates will move to Lilongwe and on Saturday, there will be a Council of Ministersâ€™ meeting.
This is when Tanzanian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Kamillius Membe and Anna Tibaijuka, that countryâ€™s Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development, will attend.
A joint communiquÃ© will be issued after the ministersâ€™ meeting.