Dust is refusing to settle on the dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over the north-east Lake Malawi boundary, with Tanzania proposing that an international mediator be appointed.
The Reuters News Agency has quoted Tanzaniaâ€™s Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe as having said his government has taken the position after observing that the current talks with Malawi have failed.
But Malawiâ€™s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume, in an interview on Monday, said he could not comment on Tanzaniaâ€™s latest stand as he is still waiting for a response on issues that Lilongwe recently asked Dodoma to address.
President Joyce Banda last week ordered the Malawi team to withdraw from the dialogue with Tanzania and that Lilongwe will refer the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). She argued Tanzania has breached trust after producing a new map showing the new boundary as being in the middle of Lake Malawi and not at the north-eastern shores.
Membe said Tanzania proposes that the mediator, who should be a retired president from the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc), be appointed, instead of referring the matter to ICJ.
During the press briefing he addressed in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, Membe also justified some of his governmentâ€™s actions such as the issuing of the new map, arguing it was issued for administrative purposes and reflected the â€œactual boundaryâ€.
On allegations of a military patrol boat on the lake, Membe said it is a regular Fisheries Department boat that is trying to stop illegal fishing and targets fishers from both countries and not only Malawians.
On return from the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, President Banda, who said she briefed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the dispute, said Malawi will look at other options of resolving the dispute, one of them being taking the matter to the ICJ.
Tanzaniaâ€™s The Citizen newspaper also reported that Membe challenged the decision to take the matter to the ICJ, arguing that Tanzania, despite being a member of the court, is not a signatory to the compulsory jurisdiction declaration.
Chiume on Monday said he wants to first get responses on Malawiâ€™s three protests before responding to the latest development.
â€œI am currently waiting for the official response to the three protests; that is, the deployment of a patrol boat on the eastern side of Lake Malawi; the harassment of Malawian fishers on the western side of Lake Malawi; and the issuance of a revised map of Tanzania, which purports to resolve the border issue with Malawi,â€ said Chiume.