Malawi and Tanzania representatives are scheduled to meet in Mzuzu on August 20Â 2012 to, among other issues, discuss the disputed border in the north-eastern part of Lake Malawi.
The two neighbouring countries are currently embroiled in misunderstandings over the border between them, after Malawi recently said it owns the entire lake.
But Tanzania argues the border separating the two countries falls in the middle of Lake Malawi which, ironically, Tanzania refers to as Lake Nyasa.
In an interview on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume said while Lilongwe is aware of Tanzaniaâ€™s stand on the matter, the two sides will meet to, among other things, â€œdeal with the matter appropriatelyâ€.
Said Chiume: “After a meeting I had with my Tanzanian counterpart a few weeks ago, it was resolved that the two sides meet in Malawi, Mzuzu to be precise, to continue with negotiations over the disputed border line. I am aware of the latest developments that Dar es Salaam has made its stand known by calling on Malawi and companies carrying out oil and gas exploration on Lake Malawi to stop until the border issues are resolved.
“However, I cannot make any comment on these developments as there is a scheduled meeting on August 20 by experts from both countries. While the issue is of national interest, very important and has generated a lot of debate in the Tanzanian media, the Malawi Governmentâ€™s stand will be known at an opportune time and currently, let us give diplomacy a chance.”
Chiumeâ€™s reaction followed an enquiry from The Nation regarding Malawiâ€™s stand after Tanzaniaâ€™s online publicationsâ€”www.thecitizen.co.tz,ippmedia.comandin2eastafrica.netâ€”on Tuesday reported that Dodoma has asked Lilongwe and companies carrying out oil and gas exploration to immediately stop, until the issue of the border between the two countries is resolved.
No to oil exploration on Lake Malawi
The publications quoted Tanzaniaâ€™s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe as having told that countryâ€™s parliament: “From today [Monday], nobody is allowed to carry out any exploration or research activities in the lake to allow the ongoing discussions to resolve the stand-off. Letâ€™s give diplomacy a chance.”
Border line wrangles between Malawi and Tanzania are not new as they date back to the 1960s when Malawiâ€™s founding president, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, claimed that Lake Malawi and the whole of Mbeya in Tanzania were part of Malawi.
Kamuzu was reportedly basing his claim on the July 1 1890 Anglo-German Agreement the former colonial powers signed to stipulate that the border between the two countries lies along the Tanzanian shore of the lake.
Â On the other hand, Membe said Tanzania has a map drawn by Britain (who then ruled Tanganyika and Nyasaland) indicating that there was an agreement to review the border and locate it at the middle of the lake as is the case in the border between Malawi and Mozambique on the same lake.
Talks on the matter were revived in 2005 with the formation of a joint ministerial committee to resolve the dispute and the lakeâ€™s name.