Petition to Parliament to summon Pres.Joyce Banda : Defence of Lake Malawi

We the people of Malawi;

Concerned with the:

  1. Statement by the Tanzanian Minister for Transport Harrison Mwakyembe to Tanzania’s Parliament on May 20 that Tanzania will acquire six passenger ships, which will be deployed on Lakes Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria with each lake getting two of the vessels;
  2. Echoing of similar statements by none other than the secretary general of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Adulrahman Kinana, at a political rally that the Tanzanian government has started making arrangements for the purchase of ships, which will be launched on Lake Malawi before the next general elections;
  3. Inadequacy of Malawi Government’s reaction and response; which as per the press statement released on Saturday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation merely and weakly describes the plan as unfortunate, especially that it comes at a time when the mediation process is going on smoothly and merely “urges the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to desist from launching vessels or indeed undertaking any acts on the disputed territory, as this will jeopardise the current mediation process”;

    Fishing families on Lake Malawi, Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS -

    Fishing families on Lake Malawi, Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS –

And further, disturbed by rumours from high level sources that:

  1. Our own envoy in this effort, Honourable Ephraim Mganda Chiume is biting more than he can chew from quarters not so friendly to the cause and stance of Malawi on Lake Malawi; and that
  2. The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania is now blackmailing our State President with threats that it will go public with commitments she made to Tanzania which border on treason vis-a-vis the lake during the time of her troubled vice presidency;

Are becoming increasingly worried whether our interests, namely: territorial sovereignty and national wealth of the Republic of Malawi are being sufficiently and competently safeguarded as per the oath taken by the President upon ascending to the high office.

Going over our concerns one by one, while the first three have been widely reported in Malawi media following the press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the third and fourth concerns, to us, ring true given the haphazard manner this serious territorial infringement is being handled.

Whatever the reasons the media in Malawi has not yet reported on concerns four and five; it is our view that these two are key to Malawi’s back and forth, policy and directional inconsistency, and a lackadaisical approach to the issue; all of which are making Tanzania more determined and confident that our territory is now theirs to the extent of taking actions that in court would deemed “prejudicial”.

NOW THEREFORE we hereby petition the National Assembly of the Republic Malawi to subpoena President Joyce Banda as per Section 60 (3) and the minister responsible, Mr Ephraim Mganda Chiume, also as per Section 60 (3) of the Constitution so that the National Assembly may inquire on behalf of the people of the Malawi nation as to why and how:

  1. After the president had stated that Malawi would pull out from the mediation after it had transpired that Malawi’s case to the panel had been leaked, Malawi nevertheless insists on this questionable mediation; and
  2. After it has now become clear that as far as Tanzania is concerned the whole mediation is just a facade; and that they seem to already know the outcome; why the press release of June 1st, 2013 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs still insists that the mediation is the only way out.

Verbatim, according to the Nation of Monday June 2nd, 2013:

“This development notwithstanding, the Malawi Government reaffirms its commitment that the issue be resolved amicably through the ongoing mediation,”Chiume is quoted to have said.

AND NOT ONLY THAT, we petition parliament to prevail upon the Executive that the government should refer the case forthwith to the International Court of Justice as promised to Malawians by the president in a press conference after the Tanzanian leaking of Malawi’s case had been revealed; and that Ephraim Mganda Chiume who we believe has a conflict of interest, should recuse himself from handling this slippery issue.

It is now a fact that Tanzania is not partaking the ongoing mediation in good faith, and this is why, while the so-called negotiations have yet to be concluded, Tanzania has unilaterally seized the lake. Tanzania has proved beyond doubt that they have no respect what so ever for the mediation charade. In fact their actions border on invasion – which is an act of war.

There is no need to beat about the bush here; Malawi needs to be firm. The President needs to walk her commitment to defend the territory of the republic of Malawi by mobilizing and deploying the Malawi Defense Force to patrol and defend the lake forthwith.

We can go further and ask for a vote of no confidence from parliament, but in the interest of natural justice and because we do not want to act as the petitioners, judges and jurors; we want to accord the State President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation a chance to explain themselves, their roles and the wisdom of continuing discussions of deliberating on what is already ours.

On the way forward, while we want to desist from promising mass action if this issue continues to be handled with the apparent lack of seriousness and should the responses from the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs be anything short of convincing; we will be unfair if we do not mention that mass action is our right and more so now when our territorial sovereignty is being sold for a song.

To conclude, from the word go, the Malawi leadership has been jumping from one position to the other. In the course of this dispute, at one point, we witnessed – within the space of one week – the Malawi Government changing and communicating three different positions.

As parliament considers this petition, note should be taken that:

  1. Tanzania stopped Malawi with continuing with gas and oil exploration till the matter is resolved. And yet, here is Tanzania purchasing boats to deploy them on the same lake.
  2. We foolishly accepted a mediation team headed by a former president whose country has similar bolder concerns, was aided by a Tanzanian national and then we started crying foul that the Tanzanians had seen our arguments, withdrew from the team, went to ICJ and came back within a week.

We therefore demand as per our right, that parliament summons the two and deliberates the issue in open session so that Malawians should know who is for them and who is not for them.

In our National Assembly and in our honourable parliamentarians, we trust. Together, let us save Lake Malawi and protect what is ours!

Signed below: by Concerned Malawi Citizens, Friends of Lake Malawi and Friends of Malawi

Link:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-national-assembly-of-the-republic-of-malawi-to-subpoena-president-joyce-banda-and-mr-ephraim-mganda-chiume

 

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