Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Monday took another step to affirm his stand on long-standing dispute between the country and Tanzania over Lake Malawi boundaries, saying national boundaries should never be an excuse for division.
Mutharika in his speech during the opening the 4th ordinary session of Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, called African countries to desist from inciting conflicts against each other due to boundaries.
Malawi and Tanzania have been at loggerheads over the Lake of Malawi with Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Augustine Mahinga recently insisting that part of the lake belongs to his country, where they call it Lake Nyasa.
Tanzania would like to have a share of the lake from which Malawi is about to extract oil, and has vowed that it will have a share of the resources drawn out of the lake.
“Our position on the lake has never changed because we have always maintained that our common border is in the middle of that lake.
“The issue is that we always demarcate new districts and regions and, therefore, time and again we publish new maps to highlight those changes,” Tanzania diplomat Mahinga said.
During his presidential campaign, Mutharika had said the border dispute with Tanzania – which revolves around the disputed lake – was not negotiable.
In his speech ayt Pan African Parliament, Mutharika said: “From the 1890 Heligoland Treaty to the 1964 Resolution on Border Disputes among African States by the OAU, there has never been a reason for disrespecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations.”
“Africa did not come to be what it is by mistake. It is then wise to remember that we co-exist peacefully because our forefathers who founded the countries we govern today valued unity in spite of our boundaries. In 1964, we all pledged that we will respect the borders we found by colonialism,” he said.
Mutharika said in Resolution 17(1) of the First Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, all member states solemnly pledged and declared “to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.”
“The most outstanding of those forefathers was Julius Nyerere who sponsored the resolution and led Tanzania in playing an active role in respecting the territorial integrity we inherited from colonialism. Paradoxically, our unity lies in the borders that divide us. On 6th March 1997, in Accra, the founding President of Tanzania, Nyere himself, said we must continue respecting the borders we found because “without unity, there is no future for Africa.”
Malawi and Tanzania returned to the negotiating table over the lake issue after Mutharika initiated the talks following his meeting with his Tanzanian counterpart the popular President John Pombe Magufulu earlier this year on the sidelines of the AU summit.
On other points, the Malawian leader called for Africans to develop a spirit of oneness, arguing it t is impossible for the Pan-African Parliament to achieve anything if Africans don’t share a common goal.
He also tackled issues of wars and conflicts across Africa and pleaded for peace and security to prevail across Africa.
“In fact, in the complex world we live today, you do not need to go to war in order to be at war. Think about cyber security! Developments in technology have brought cybercrime by which any country can be under attack at any time. In addition, African countries are fast becoming crime routes and corridors of terrorism.
“In our quest for peace and security, we must also stop crime and terrorism being exported from one country to another through our countries. We must remember to stand together and remember – when you protect your neighbor, you protect yourself.”
Mutharika emphasized that African need to have a shared atmosphere of peace and security for the continent’s economic growth and prosperity.
“We have the war on poverty to fight. Not only do we need African economies to grow, but we also need the participation of the people in that economic growth. If our economic growth is to be meaningful, then we need the participation of women and the youth.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :