Tanzania government has hit back at the statement by Malawi for its claim of ownership of Lake Nyasa, saying the country would defend its territorial integrity and observe international laws.
The acting Leader of government businesses in Parliament, Samweli Sitta , said the Tanzania government was shocked by the information that principal secretary in Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patrick Kabambe declared that the entire Lake Malawi also known in Tanzania as Lake Nyasa was wholly in Malawi.
Sitta who is also the East Africa Cooperation minister said Tanzania government has been shocked by the statement because the discussion concerning the ownership of Lake Malawi was proceeding.
Tanzania seeks 50 per cent ownership of Lake Malawi. The lake is in the southern part of Tanzania, bordering Malawi, and is reported to have signs of bearing oil and gas.
He was commenting after a request for a government statement over the issue from MP Godfrey Zambi .
“My voters have been calling to inform me about the statement by the Malawi government that Lake Nyasa belonged to Malawi…this has interfered with people’s activities and threatened their security,” Zambi said.
Kabambe is quoted saying: “We categorically put it to them (Tanzania) that as far as we are concerned, the entire lake belongs to Malawi.”
He cited an agreement of 1890 between former colonial powers that stipulates the border between the two countries as lying along the Tanzanian shore of the lake.
“Our terms are very clear on this, but we will continue to engage with Tanzania as a good neighbour,” Kabambe was quoted by AFP News Agency as saying.
Meanwhile,Sitta according to The Citizen of Tanzania, assured residents around Lake Malawi in the Eastern African country that they should carry on with their daily activities: “ The government is stable and ready for any provocation.”
The development of the dispute dates back to the colonial era, but gained momentum in September last year. At that time the former Malawi President, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, awarded a British firm, Surestream Petroleum, a licence to prospect for oil and gas on the lake.
Tanzania on Wednesday called for an amicable resolution to the dispute with Malawi over oil and gas exploration in the lake.
The two nations will hold talks on the disputed border in the northern Malawian town of Mzuzu on August 20.
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