Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Augustine Mahiga, and President Peter Mutharika Monday separately indicated that the border dispute over Lake Malawi has become less precarious following the meeting that Mutharika and his Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, recently had in Ethiopia on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit.
Mahiga has, however, defended the recent map which the east African country released, arguing nothing has changed in the border markings which were there before.
The map, which Malawi protested against, extends into Lake Malawi, called Lake Nyasa in Tanzania, and came out at a time simmered following the coming in of new governments in both countries.
In an interview after meeting Mutharika at State House in Lilongwe yesterday, Mahiga admitted that the border dispute is contentious and needs to be handled with care.
On the other hand, he insisted that the confusion over the boundary in relation to the lake emanates from what the two countries’ colonial powers left behind.
“The British and the Germans left different kinds of maps that show the border in between and certainly even from my school days, this is the map that we used to see.
“It is not a new map, but it is an inherited map which I think needs clarification and that is why even the name of the lake in Tanzania is Lake Nyasa and here you call it Lake Malawi, and of course the name Malawi came after the independence of your country,” Mahiga said.
He added that during discussions on the border dispute, such factors will have to be factored in “because what we released is not a new map, but perhaps just an old map with new colours”.
Before going into a closed-door session with the Tanzania delegation, Mutharika also touched on the border issue, saying his recent interactions with Magufuli portend a cordial handling of the dispute.
He said the agreement on defence and security which establishes the Joint Defence and Security Commission covering matters of defence, police cooperation, immigration, prisons, refugees and illegal immigrants was a milestone of the fourth session of the Malawi-Tanzania Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) which Mahiga and his team had come for.
“It is further pleasing and assuring to note that, in keeping with the consultations with my Dear Brother, President Magufuli in Addis Ababa, our two Ministries of Foreign Affairs will work together in ensuring that the mediation efforts by the distinguished Sadc Forum of African Union former Heads of State comprising Their Excellencies Joaquim Chissano, Thabo Mbeki, and Festus Mogae, Former Presidents of Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana, respectively, will be resuscitated towards a logical conclusion of the Lake Malawi border dispute between our two countries,” Mutharika said.
He added that the enhanced cooperation in energy matters, tourism, health, education, agriculture, mining, fisheries, sports, gender and many other sectors will also go a long way in impacting positively the lives of citizens of both countries.