Lake row: Youths pen Tanzania, Malawi Presidents to ‘desist from political hypocrisy’

Youth and Society, an advocate for peace, justice and peoples’ rights has called upon the leadership and politicians of Malawi and Tanzania to refrain from making inflammatory and irresponsible statements that would frustrate the peaceful process of resolving the dispute.

“We wish to express our growing dismay over the on-going lake dispute between Malawi and Tanzania specifically in view of the recent developments that threaten the peaceful mediation process in which Tanzania intends to deploy two passenger ships on the disputed Lake Malawi.

“As Youth advocates, we shall protest against any illicit intention by any government or politician to frustrate the peaceful mediation process,” the grouping said in a petition signed by Chairperson Charles Kajoloweka and Board member Emily Mkamanga.

Malawi claims sovereignty over the entire Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest, based on the Helgoland Treaty, a colonial relic, while Tanzania claims under international law it is entitled to over 50 percent of the Lake known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

Kajoloweka: Resolve the lake row amicably
Kajoloweka: Resolve the lake row amicably

The border row is more than 40 years old and resurfaced after Malawi discovered oil in the Lake.

The Mzuzu based group made their impassioned plea in a two-paged petition dated June 20, 2013 addressed to Malawian president Dr. Joyce Banda and her Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete and copied to the Chairman SADC forum for retired Heads of State former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano.

The Youths and Society group observed that the lake Border row is gradually becoming a political campaign issue in Malawi and Tanzania in view of the Elections to be held in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

“The leadership of the two countries needs to rise above mere party politics and swallow their pride and put the interest of the people first. As young people…will not hesitate to voice out against any attempt by any leadership or institution to deliberately thwart the dialogue path…bearing in mind a long peaceful co-existence that continue to exist between the two countries,” reads part of the petition.

The grouping also asked the two Presidents to desist from any act of provocation and unnecessary political hypocrisy to ruin the ongoing peaceful process.

“We urge the two leaders… to vest trust and confidence in the integrity of the on-going mediation process and believe that the matter would be handled with professionalism and objectivity.

“It must be clearly stated that any attempt to dismiss or frustrate the dialogue and mediation processes sends unnecessary message of a growing conflict and indeed speculation of war among the citizens of the two countries,” they said.

In its submission to the Southern African Development Community’s Forum of Former African Heads of State Malawi said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or legal instruments addressing trans-boundary watercourses are invalid arguing that the Anglo –German treaty of 1890 on which most borders in Africa are based has the overall authority.

Malawi also questioned the legitimacy of the 1890 treaty could have grave consequences for regional stability saying even countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, DRC and Tanzania, Tanzania and Zambia, Ivory Coast and Togo and boundaries in the Lake Chad are based on the same treaty.

Malawi made its official submission in January 2013 in the Mozambican Capital Maputo to the African Forum for Former Heads of State and Governments, which Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano heads and is tasked with the mediation process on the Malawi/Tanzania Lake Border row.

While Tanzania submitted its official submission in February 2013 and reiterated that, it will not go to war with its neighbor Malawi over the much publicized and controversial lake border row saying it is pleased with the mediation process.

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