Malawi takes lake dispute to UN, AU

  • Ministry says govt wouldn’t sit and watch

Malawi has formally protested to the international community, including United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU), over Tanzania’s new map that shows a 50-50 sharing of the northern half of Lake Malawi.

In the communication, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has advised the international community to disregard the said map and recognise the one that shows Malawi owning the whole of the northern half of Lake Malawi.

A map showing the disputed border
A map showing the disputed border

In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Rejoice Shumba confirmed that Malawi has written the international community advising it to ignore the new map.

She said: “Government indeed wrote the letter to protest the new map because we did not want as a country some countries and organisations to start recognising and using the wrong maps as advanced by Tanzania.”

Shumba said the letter advises the international community to snub the wrong map and instead continue using the old map.

Besides UN and AU, other members of the international community addressed include Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and the East African Community (EAC).

Shumba: Countries should not use the map
Shumba: Countries should not use the map

Said Shumba: “Government would not have just remained silent because that would mean acknowledging the purported new map. So, the idea was basically to protest and show that we are not happy with the new map and then advise them to stick to the official map that we have been using all along.”

In January this year, Malawi also protested to the Tanzania Government over its decision to publish a new map before the two countries had resolved a dispute over the boundaries on Lake Malawi.

The new map, which Tanzania has been promoting over the past months, shows the north-east of Lake Malawi as belonging to her territory.

Local governance and social commentator Undule Mwakasungula said in an interview the new map is an act of provocation by Tanzania and asked the international community to condemn the move.

He said: “This new map shows that our neighbour does not subscribe to a peaceful means to resolving this wrangle. And more surprising it is coming from the new President whom we thought will have a sound mind to bring an amicable solution to this wrangle.

“As Malawi we must always pursue peace for the good of our people. Peace must be our priority that’s why even government has written the international community as part of pursuing peace.

“It is also important to note that the new map by Tanzania will not change anything because the lake historically is ours and has been ours. No question about that and no compromise.”

On August 29 this year, Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa mobilised government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to reject the new map.

That was the first time government had issued such an order to its MDAs since Tanzania redrew the map in 2012.

The lake wrangle between the two countries dates back to the 1960s and has resurfaced with each regime since Dr Kamuzu Banda’s leadership.

Recently, regional mediators led by former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano met President Peter Mutharika to ask Malawi to return to the negotiating table after a year of stalemate.

In the lake border stand-off, Malawi asserts full ownership of the lake, except the south-eastern stretch in Mozambique whereas Tanzania is claiming the north-eastern half as its own.

Malawi bases its argument on a July 1 1890 treaty between Germany and Britain that maps the boundary between the two countries along the Tanzanian shores.

On the other hand, Tanzania is invoking the 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea that stipulates that in cases where nations are separated by water bodies, the boundary lies in the middle of the water source.

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  1. Avatar

    This is a very good move. The letter is late. You should sent it a long time ago. You see, some issues requires swift action. I would suggest that Malawi sends security forces to patrol the lake. No inch of our lake should be given to Tanzania come rain, come sunshine. The status quo shud remain. I wish Mutharika could make a statement on this.

  2. Avatar

    I recommend the two countries to fight and kill each other,for the oil.The african mentality,if Gaddafi was still alive he would have united the whole of Africa

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