Veteran politicians Humphreys Mvula and Sam Mpasu alongside a University of Malawi’s political science lecturer Blessings Chinsinga have trashed remarks by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Peter Mutharika in which he spoke against the need for negotiation in solving the wrangle between Malawi and Tanzania over the ownership of Lake Malawi also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.
Speaking on state owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television station, Mvula wondered why Mutharika would come up with such remarks when he failed to advise on the same ro his late brother former president Bingu wa Mutharika.
“When the late Mutharika became president the matter was there and the professor (Peter Mutharika) who was the chief legal advisor to the late former president would’ve done well to give that advice to that president,” said Mvula.
He said there is always a need to give a dialogue a chance on such issues.
“I don’t think anybody who wants to be the leader of this country would want to subject this country to war, with a neighboring country. Tanzania and Malawi we live as brothers and sisters after all we have intermarried and lived peacefully,” he said.
Mpasu, a former Speaker of Parliament and minister, said it is not a prudent for one to think of rushing into a military situation “when we can solve our problems through diplomatic channels. What is important is that both Malawi and Tanzania are members of SADC, African Union, United Nations and Commonwealth so there are plenty of channels for resolving these issues amicably.”
He said Tanzania is not disputing the established boundaries but they are saying according to the international law of the sea they are part of Lake Malawi.
“And this is a question of pointing out to them that Malawi is a land locked country, it has no sea or whatso ever. If they could come to us with an international law on inland lakes that could have been understandable. So that is a simple matter that can be resolved through a diplomatic channel in all the fora that both Tanzania and Malawi are members of,” said Mpasu.
On his turn Chinsinga said Mutharika’s statement is a bit misplaced because so far the government has handled the issue of the lake reasonably well.
“The president has invited the leaders of the opposition to discuss these issues so that as a nation we take a collective stand. As far as I can recall he has never attended any of these meetings therefore I found it a bit awkward for him to say that the way the government has taken this matter demonstrates weak leadership,” he said.
Chinsinga also said it is unfortunate that the DPP leaders is propagating physical approach to the issue that could easily be resolved through diplomatic means.
Mutharika, who has not been participating in President Joyce Banda’s consultative meetings with opposition leaders on the lake, said on Saturday during whistle stop rallies he conducted in central region areas said Malawians should not worry on the lake wrangle with Tanzania as the whole lake belongs to Malawi emphasizing that not even an inch belongs to Tanzania.
But Mutharika on Monday through his public relations office of ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ issued a statement made available to Nyasa Times to clarify that he did not propagate war on the matter.
“I did not say that we should go to war over the lake, however, I did acknowledge that the lake has always been called part of Malawi since the 1890’s and the name clearly states that it is called Lake Malawi because it belongs to our country.
“ The government of Tanzania clearly knows that it is owned by Malawi for over 123 years. This issue of the lake is non-negotiable. There is no need to discuss or determine who owns it. It is quite obvious that they suspect that there is natural gas and oil and sees it as an opportunity to make money and benefit from,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika continued to state that, the lake belongs to Malawi and that he intends to use it as a resource to help people advance.
“When we hear that the lake is being negotiated on, what is the basis? Malawi owns the lake and this is quite clear.”
Tanzania claim to half the lake – Africa’s third biggest – but Malawi disputes. The matter is currently under mediation but President Banda has hinted that if not resolved by September 30, Malawi will got to International Court of Justice (ICJ).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :