APM cautioned on Lake Malawi row

Governance and social analysts have advised President Peter Mutharika to bring on board tactical non-State actors in the long-standing Lake Malawi border row with neighbouring Tanzania.

Their observation comes following an apparent standstill in the negotiations between the two countries. The last talks on the matter were in 2014.

Mwakasungula: Set up a technical team
Mwakasungula: Set up a technical team

The President attempted to engage his Tanzania counterpart John Magufuli during the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), but the meeting failed to take place following Magufuli’s failure to attend the summit.

In an interview yesterday, governance and social analyst Undule Mwakasungula advised Mutharika to set up a technical team to push for genuine engagement and dialogue with Tanzania.

He said: “It is prudent to think of expanding stakeholders’ domain by bringing in visible strategic non-State actors beyond the Malawi-Tanzania State technocrats and political bureaucracies.”

But the former vocal human rights advocate also emphasised the need for the two countries to pursue peace for the betterment of their citizens.

“Let us not be spectators in this issue as we notice many spoilers and anti-peace elements taking advantage in escalating the tension for their evil interests.

Asked to consult: Mutharika
Asked to consult: Mutharika

“Peace must be a priority for both countries. We need to pursue peace at all costs because we depend on each other in terms of boosting our economies, trade, cultural exchange and many other areas,” he said.

On his part, another social commentator and human rights activist Billy Banda said the issue requires every citizen, irrespective of political affiliations or regions, to remain patriotic and committed.

Banda also said Mutharika should engage various stakeholders to be part of the cause of protecting the lake.

“We all need to stand with the President and urge him to stand very strong with us. Nothing belongs to the people of Tanzania.

“Kamuzu Banda [Malawi’s founding president] made this very clear from as early as 1960s that Tanzania should never dare think, plan or talk privately or publicly about the Lake Malawi issue,” he said.

He observed with concern the sluggish progress of the negotiations since the engagement of mediators (African Forum for Former Heads of State and Government) and suspects the team to be playing double standards.

The team is headed by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano with ex-heads of State Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) and Festus Mogae of Botswana as members.

During his campaign trails in the run up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, Mutharika pledged to defend the lake boundary to the end once he gets into government.

In November 2014, Mutharika met Chissano and Mogae at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre where the mediators asked for patience as they were handling the matter without taking sides.

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