The Tanzania government has ruled out any possibility of the clergy mediating in the Lake Malawi border dispute with Malawi, arguing such internal avenues were already exhausted.
The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) and the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) recently offered to mediate in the border dispute after the two councils engaged in discussions on how best they can play their pastoral role to find a peaceful end to the matter.
All this comes against the background of former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano being approached by the two countries to help with mediation on behalf of the African Forum for Former Heads of State and Government on December 21.
But Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe ruled out any possibilities of the church’s intervention in an interview with Daily News of Tanzania on December 26 2012.
“This submission of joint letters [to Chissano] means that the chapter for internal mediation dialogues between the two countries is closed and all the hopes are now on the Forum to decide on the matter,” Membe is quoted as saying by the Daily News through the website (http://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/local-news/13019-churches-cannot-solve-border-dispute).
He said had there been any avenue to seek the solution to the row internally, that would be the way to go, but the decision which was reached in November by both Malawi and Tanzania to move forward to the Forum means that internal avenues have been exhausted.
Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Chiume said government is not sure how the church would want to intervene on the matter; hence, he is meeting its representatives this week.
Chiume explained that the two countries have a clear road map which they are following and the countries are also waiting for guidance from Chissano.
“We will take them [the church] through the road map so that they appreciate the process,” said Chiume.
MCC general secretary the Reverend Dr. Osborne Joda-Mbewe said last week that the church felt left behind and concerned if Malawi and Tanzania fail to reach an agreement again after approaching the Forum.
Whereas Malawi claims ownership of the whole northern part of Lake Malawi based on the 1890 Anglo-German Treaty (Heligoland Treaty), Tanzania argues the border between the two countries passes in the middle of the lake.