Government says it will in the next financial year start printing of boundary maps as well as drafting and signing of the Boundary Treaty with Zambia including reaffirming its boundaries on Lake Malawi with Mozambique.
The exercise will begin with an impact assessment study of the already demarcated Malawi/Zambia boundary on the communities and public and private infrastructure in the areas or villages where the boundary cuts across these developments.
Responding to an emailed questionnaire, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Charles Vintulla said the Lake Malawi boundary with Mozambique will be reaffirmed upon the availability of both parties, that is, Malawi and Mozambique.
“This is already agreed and planned, what remains is just to set a date for both sides to carry out the exercise. We are also going to produce boundary maps and reaffirmation of river boundaries of Muloza, Ruo and Shire rivers.” said Vintulla without immediately disclosing the amount of money to be used in the exercise.
He said activities regarding the overall boundary exercise are already underway, but are being interrupted by differences in financial years between Malawi on one hand, and Zambia and Mozambique on the other.
The exercise is jointly funded by African Union, GIZ and concerned governments.
The building of pillars on the Malawi/Zambia international boundary was completed in 2012 covering the entire stretch from Coumba in Mchinji to Nankungulu in Chitipa districts [covering 604 kilometres].
On the Malawi/Mozambique land boundary stretch, Vintulla said the ministry is remaining with 200 kilometres which runs from Mwanza to Nsanje.
However, the exercise initiated by the three governments to address some concern of inappropriately mapped borders marked by the British and their Portuguese counterparts, faced challenges as some villagers resisted giving up what they argued was their ancestral land to bordering countries.
In the area of Traditional Authority Makanjira in Mangochi and some parts of Dedza, the issue has been thorny with reports of border police from Mozambique harassing Malawians.
“The challenge is that communities have their own maps different from those affirmed by surveyors,” said Mangochi District Commissioner James Manyetera.
He said his office is now working with villagers so that they understand the whole exercise while on the other hand referring the matter to the their Mozambican counterpart from Chimbunila district adding that plans are there to address the people.
Concurring with Manyetera, Vintulla said the Dedza matter was well resolved amicably, and now the two governments are working on resolving the Makanjira-Mangochi scenario.
“It is international practice that wherever a reaffirmed international boundary cuts across a village or community, the communities are allowed to live their normal lives and continue with their social activities.
This is the position and message we are carrying to all border patrol authorities to respect the daily cross border activities of the communities, regardless of the pillars erected,” said Vintulla.
He further said all hotspots (places with challenges like pillars cutting through villages) are being addressed by concerned governments through Joint Permanent Commissions on Security.