I read Pastor Hastings Salanje’s post on the Lake Malawi dispute. Pastor Salanje as a man of God advises us to avoid shedding of blood by bowing down to Tanzania’s call of sharing it with them. He accurately cites such example as of Read Sea, Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea. He also points out the instance where Malawi has shared this Lake with Mozambique.
I would like people to know that there are many people who are following this issue with keen interest as I have been, not only this story but also about Homosexuality, Nsanje Port, Politics and others. I have been quiet and enjoying reading what patriotic Malawians have been writing on these issues and others. After reading Pastor Salanje’s post, I have decided to make my way to the electronic media.
I would like to give my views in simple English in response to Pastor Salanje’s post in relation to the issue of wrangling over Lake Malawi which has been there for the past fifty years between Malawi and Tanzania.
I am a pastor myself, and I do agree with pastor Salanje that we avoid the shedding of blood by all means, but I disagree in doing that by giving away what belongs to us. I believe that Pastor Salanje knows pretty well that the Israelites were given the land of Cannan by God while there were other occupants there. Israelites had to fight the occupants of that land before they occupied it. We also know that, up to now the Israelites are still fighting over the land with Palestinians. They have never given it up because God gave it to them.
I may be a layman in history but if I have been following this issue well, Malawians are not greedy over the Lake but that the Anglo-German treaty which was made in 1890, 1960s and 2007 with AU gave Malawians the right over this Lake as opposed to Tanzanians. Such agreement was not made out of nothing but that Tanzanians got part of the land to give Malawians the total ownership of the Lake.
I understand that, part of Tanzania’s land mostly Mbeya belonged to Nyasaland/Malawi and it was given to the Germans for the British to take total control over Lake Nyasa. Now, why should we talk about avoiding the blood shed by giving up the Lake and not claim our land. I do not support Malawians sticking to Lake Malawi, we can share it with Tanzanians but Tanzanians should swallow their pride and aggression to give up the land that belonged to us back then. Tanzanians know that quit well. Malawi is a peaceful country, and we wouldn’t wish to be at war with our brothers and sisters in Tanzania.
Coming to the issue that Pastor Salanje has pointed out about Malawi sharing the lake with Mozambicans, the pastor seem to quickly forget that it was win-win game. Makanjira was not part of Malawi before and also part of Dedza. Mozambique gave out these lands in exchange of part of Lake Malawi. This is why Mozambique has no issue with us about the Lake. So it is out of context to cite such incidence. The question is, “why is Tanzania so aggressive in claiming part of Lake Malawi despite having the vast country.” If Tanzanians deny that they are not aggressive, they should give us part of the land they took some years ago instead of thinking about themselves. That is being selfish.
I understand that, Tanzanians ushered war threats on Malawians over the Lake. This is very unfortunate of them. They are also defying the negotiations agreements they made with Malawi by planning to introduce the ships on this Lake. I understand that, AU reminded its member states to respect colonial demarcations of boarders. Why is it so greedy now? We all know that Tanzanians have never been denied of Lake Malawi in terms of fishing and swimming since time in memorial because Malawians are generous but what we don’t want is to give them the ownership of part of the Lake just because of war threats. If we do that, how much of our land and resources are going to give out if Zambia and Mozambique decides to do that? We will end up loosing the whole country by being cowards. I mean by being fearful. Tanzanians were never this stubborn during Kamuzu Banda, Bakili Muluzi and Bingu wa Muthalika’s rule of Malawi. Is it because we now have a female president who is so motherly? It is very unfortunate if they are basing their greed on that. Tanzanians should know that it is not President Joyce Banda who will fight with Tanzania’s Defence Force if war is to erupt, it will be Malawi Defence Force.
Tanzanians should also note that, it is not being so many in the country which guarantees a war victory but skills. It is wrong for Tanzanians to look down upon MDF just because Malawi is a small country. Tanzania and Malawi has never gone to war before, there is no base of war victory for Tanzanians against Malawi. Tanzanians should also know that in terms of war, no country wins. Both countries loose in one way or another.
I believe that, Tanzanians also have blood to shed during war. It will not be only Malawians who will die even if war ends in their favour. Cordial relationship we have shared with them will no longer be there. In this case Tanzanians also loose because, there are Tanzanians in Malawi also. Again, we know that more Malawians depend on Tanzania’s port in buying things from overseas, because it is a landlocked country. In this case, when war starts, both Tanzanians and Malawians will loose because, Malawi will find it difficult to do trade with Tanzania while Tanzania’s revenue will reduce. In addition, there are many people who have intermarried from these two countries, are we even think of them when we talk about war?
What I would advise my fellow pastor, Salanje, faith community and Malawians as a whole is to pray that, negotiations end without war because no one will win after war. If Tanzanians are not happy because Malawi is trying to explore its resources for economic gain, then I would advise Malawi government to completely quit the oil exploration so that we live in peace with our brothers and sisters but never give up the ownership of the Lake. Let Tanzanians also quit the attempt of deploying the ships on Lake Malawi while we allow them to fish and swim until the negotiations are over.
I also supported Malawi government to just go to ICJ so that whatever results which will come out of that court based on evidences and constructive arguments from the two country’s AGs, we, will respect. SADC negotiations results will never satisfy any of the two countries, believe me or not. Why is Malawi wasting time on that decision? Let us avoid blood shed, yes, but not by giving up what we clearly know belongs to us. British and Germans signed the 1890 Anglo-German boarder agreement of Nyasaland and Tanganyika but not British and Portuguese in terms of Nyasaland and Mozambique, so the two countries should be treated unequally.
*Pastor, Robert Masikamu
A Malawian Master of Arts Student at Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi, Kenya
For feedback; [email protected], Facebook name; Robert Masikamu.