President Peter Mutharika is scheduled to hold talks with his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli to, among others, discuss the contentious Lake Malawi border dispute.
Mutharika is expected to meet Magufuli in New York, United States of America (USA) on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which begins next week. Mutharika leaves for New York tomorrow.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Francis Kasaila said on Monday the President was making an initiative to take advantage of the annual assembly to meet his counterpart.
“We have already contacted our colleagues to see if President Magufuli will be available and will have space to meet President Mutharika to discuss a number of issues, including the Lake Malawi border issue,” he said.
This will be Mutharika’s first encounter with Magufuli on the matter since taking over power in May 2014. Magufuli won the Tanzanian presidency in October 2015.
The planned meeting comes at a time when the neighbouring country is promoting a new map which it has drawn showing the north-east of Lake Malawi as belonging to her territory.
Last week, Malawi issued an alert to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to reject the new map and be on the lookout.
Kasaila said what Tanzania had done to promote a new map was against what the two countries agreed to respect the mediation process which is being led by former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano.
The minister said Malawi sought the intervention of international organisations such as the African Union (AU) following the production of new map.
However, the AU regional delegate to Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and the Common Market for Easten and Southern Africa (Comesa) Auguste Ngomo was quoted this week by the media as saying although his organisation was ready to assist in resolving the differences, the long-lasting solution to the problem is for both countries to look at the issue in a “Pan-Africanist way”.
The two countries are currently waiting to hold another round of mediation talks, which were stalled in 2014 as the two countries held general elections.
During his campaign trail, Mutharika pledged to defend the lake boundary to the end, arguing it was not negotiable as the entire lake belongs to Malawi.
Malawi and Tanzania have been involved in dispute of the portion in question, believed to be oil rich, over the past 50 years with the matter dating back to 1960s and it has resurfaced with each regime since the late founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s era.