The Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) has moved in on the Malawi-Tanzania dispute over the boundary on Lake Malawi, outlining steps to be undertaken in the mediation process.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume led a delegation from Lilongwe to Maputo, Mozambique, to familiarise themselves with the contents of the road map.
Chiume yesterday confirmed travelling to Mozambique where he met former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, chairperson of the forum of retired heads of State. But the minister refused to be drawn into commenting on minute details of the process.
He said: “There is need to desist [from] further commenting on this. The mediation team expressed concern that we are talking too much. So, regarding the details, I will not comment on that.”
But Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation public relations officer Quent Kalichero is quoted by Africa Review as saying Chiume was in Mozambique to get clarification on the road map.
“The roadmap will run until September 2013 and spells out steps in the mediation process,” Kalichero is quoted as having said.
Two weeks ago, Malawi protested against Tanzania’s intention to deploy two ships on Lake Malawi, arguing the decision runs counter to the spirit and intent of the mediation process between the two countries over the lake boundary.
Lilongwe described Dodoma’s intention to deploy the ships on Lake Malawi as unfortunate, especially coming at a time when the mediation process over the boundary dispute is going smoothly.
During Parliament Session in Tanzania in May, Harris Mwakayembe, Minister of Transport of the United Republic of Tanzania said his government will purchase six new passenger ships and two of them will be deployed on Lake Malawi.
East Africa has become hot property for the oil industry since huge gas findings off the shores of Tanzania and Mozambique and oil strikes in Uganda and Kenya. Rich hydrocarbon deposits are believed to lie below Lake Malawi.
In 2011, Malawi angered Tanzania when it awarded exploration licences to United Kingdom-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in the disputed northern area.
Malawi pulled out of talks in October.
In April this year, President Joyce Banda indicated that the forum’s intervention was a waste of time and Malawi was opting for the International Court of Justice (ICJ). n
lMalawi claims ownership of the whole northern part of Lake Malawi based on the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty (Heligoland Treaty).
lTanzania argues that the border between the two countries passes through the middle of the northern part of the lake.