Members of clergy from different dominations under the Pastors Fraternal of Chilumba in Karonga on Wednesday observed a day of prayer and fasting where among other things they prayed for peaceful solution to the ongoing border row between Malawi and its Northern neighbor Tanzania over the owner ship of the lake Malawi.
Karonga is Malawi’s northern region based borderous district with Tanzania.
The border dispute between the two countries has been outstanding and it dates back to the days of Malawi’s founding president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda but seemingly died a natural death since the dawn of multiparty democracy in Malawi in 1994.
Malawi claims sovereignty over the entirety of Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest lake, while Tanzania says it is entitled to 50 percent of it .
The dispute, which dates back half a century, has threatened to sour relations between the two countries.
Tanzania which calls it Lake Nyasa claimed ownership of half of the lake and made its intentions known and very clearly by changing its map which shows half of the lake as theirs.
This did not go down well with Malawian government which decided to resolve the conflict using diplomatic means through contact and dialogue.
However, upon realizing that the Tanzanian delegation was not being sincere, Malawi leader Mrs. Joyce Banda ordered her delegation to pull out of the discussions and referred the matter to several international blocks among them Sadc, AU and lately Comesa.
The bone of contention is the possibility that the lake could be home to millions of natural gases and oil. Government contracted Surestream, a British firm, to explore the natural resources.
And if proven to be true, the oil and gas explorations would bring massive turnaround to Malawi’s ailing economy which heavily relies on agriculture.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to show solidarity with the Malawi government, the men of collar gathered at the Chikumba CCAP church where they discussed and prayed for several key issues rocking the country.
Pastor Pleasant Sichali, the event’s organizing chairperson, told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview that the prayers were aimed at seeking God’s intervention on thorny issues that have affected the country.
“Yes, we organized a special day of prayer and fasting here in Karonga at Chilumba CCAP church. We used the opportunity to pray for the leadership of Malawi, stabilized economy, normalization of cost of living, unity, the rule of law and above all the on-going Lake issue with Tanzania.
“We came together from almost all Christian churches for one purpose only. We have realized that we the people of Karonga are the ones to lose a lot in an event that part of the lake goes to Tanzania but after the prayers everybody came out of the room satisfied that God will protect our country and is on our side,” explained Pastor Sichali.
He further told Nyasa Times that another similar event has been planned in the month of December before Christmas.
Pastor Sichali also revealed that the group is planning to approach their Tanzanian counterparts to see if they can convince their government to withdraw what he called “the selfish persuasion of ownership of the lake.”
Meanwhile, Malawi government said it is encouraged with the support it is getting from both religious and traditional leaders on its stance over the issue.
Government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu said in interview that recently he met religious leaders in some parts of the country and the response he got has been enlightening.
“As government we are encouraged by the support we have received from the public but mainly the chiefs and religious leaders, they have given us stamina to stand firm and tell Tanzania in the face that not an inch of the lake is going anywhere. In the same vein the gesture by Karonga Chilumba religious leaders needs to be encouraged at all cost,” said Kunkuyu.
During the recent Comesa summit in Kampala, Uganda it was reported that an organization of former heads of state had agreed to mediate on the wrangle.
Interestingly, the group has members like Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi and Tanzania’s former statesmen Benjamin Nkapa and Ali Hassan Mwinyi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :