Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander General Griffin Supuni Phiri has assured President Peter Mutharika and the country of the soldiers’ protection against foreign or internal aggression.
General Supuni Phiri was speaking at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe on Tuesday when President Peter Mutharika, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and vice president Saulos Chilima, attended MDF inter-denominational prayers.
“Your Excellency, your soldiers are ready to defend the people of this country from foreign and internal enemies.
“Malawians, and you, sir, should sleep peacefully, knowing that all your men are alert as a professional army,” he stated.
Phiri said: “We are ready whether it is day time or night time to fight anyone who wants to bring confusion in this country, whether he is a mercenary from outside or within.”
He said MDF success is based on discipline and patriotism among all the soldiers.
The statement by Supuni may be interprested as a stern warning to neighbouring Tanzania over the disputed border over Lake Malawi but Malawi government has maintained the possibility of war is off the table and maintains that the entire lake belongs to Malawi.
President Mutharika is on record arguing that the issue of the Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest fresh-water body, is non-negotiable.
The dispute has been on and off since Tanzania and Malawi became independent from Britain in 1961 and 1964 respectively. Malawi’s founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda reportedly warned his Tanzanian counterpart Mwalimu Julius Nyerere to clear off the lake or risk armed conflict.
But the issue resurfaced when the administration of the current President’s brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, contracted Surestream, a British company, to explore for the possibility of oil deposits on the northern reaches of the lake.
Tanzania warned that it will shoot down any exploration plane flying over what it claims to be its part of the lake.
But Malawi backs its claim over the entire lake on what is called the Heligoland Treaty of 1 July 1890, an arrangement between Great Britain and Germany that defined the two colonial powers’ respective spheres of influence in eastern Africa and gave Germany control over German East Africa (then comprising today’s MainlandTanzania, Burundi and Rwanda) and Britain over Malawi, including the entire lake.
Currently, a committee of former Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) leaders, led by former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, are mediating into the dispute.
Meanwhile, Phiri also said the soldiers are determined to deal with anyone who tries to destroy the environment in any way.
The Army Commander, however, asked the Malawi leader that the MDF should have its military hospital at Kamuzu Barracks, saying resources should be injected in the facilities.
He said land is already available for the hospital to be constructed.
“We spend a lot of money for referrals but once we have the hospital here, a lot of Malawians, including civilians will benefit,” said Supuni Phiri.
President Mutharika said he is proud of Malawi army soldiers, saying they have earned their reputation locally and internationally.
“I want to commend MDF officers for their hard work and professionalism which is reflected in the good reports Malawi has from all countries they have gone to for peace keeping.
“I also want to commend them for the work they are doing here in helping during floods, protecting our environment and the ecosystem,” he said.
He assured that the military hospital will be a reality in the next two years.
President Mutharika and vice president Chilima also planted trees at the barracks.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :