Tanzania let us reason together over Lake Malawi dispute!

Since the Lake Malawi dispute egressed some 50 years ago, a lot has been said but less has been done to completely put it to rest. Malawi has for many times challenged that not even an inch of this lake will go to Tanzania citing 1890 treaty between German and Britain while on the other hand Tanzania challenges, “we will make sure that we own half of Lake Nyasa/Malawi, we have to correct mistakes made by our colonial masters”, citing international water body law.

When you look at these statements, you’ll note that each side has effectual argument. I see that neither Malawi nor Tanzania should underestimate the other’s argument. What I would wish the two countries is to come and reason together just as God called Israelites to come to Him and reason together (Isaiah 1:18). We can’t fight now, please. I know that either national reading this is anxious as to what am I trying to say.

I see that Malawi is right that Lake Malawi belongs to it according to 1890 treaty and Tanzania is right to suggest rectifying colonial errors and follow international water body law. Colonial masters decided on how the borders should go, against the will of the locals since we had no authority to decide on our lands if we did maybe we could not face these wrangles today. This applies to all African countries since all were on one time under colonialism. These border demarcations are still the ones used in all African countries today. Through them, other countries are savouring enough space while others such as Malawi have no space to breathe, so rectifying colonial errors would be a good idea.lake map

What is needed in this dispute is clear and conscience reasoning without competition, selfish ambition or thinking about war. In every dispute, it is unwise to talk about war because there can always be a civilized solution. Like I said in my other article, in real sense, no country wins war because even if it goes in one’s favour, both countries loose lives of their citizens, resources, peace, development is retarded, friends from the two countries get separated. During war, there is serious hunger, diseases, rape, loss of property, education and worship get interrupted and almost all government resources go to war etc., so please, consider these before you mention war.

It is easy to merely talk about war but when it starts you wish it was never there. It is unfortunate that even ordinary citizens are mentioning about war forgetting that when it starts, politicians will be the very last ones to face a bullet if at all, any. Tell me, how many frontline politicians died in Rwanda, Congo, Libya, Iran, Iraqi, Mali and other war-tone countries? Tell me, how many ordinary citizens died? They died in millions.

When politicians say, “we are ready to shed blood for our land”, they actually mean ordinary citizens’ blood, not theirs. Tell me, which politician died during July 20, 2011 anti-government demonstrations in Malawi? None of them, but they were the ones who instigated it.

There have been war threats from Tanzanian side for some time but of late, it has stopped and adopted civilized way of solving the dispute. When Tanzania kept on issuing war threats to Malawi, one time Joyce Banda said, “I am ready to die for my land” without mentioning Lake Malawi dispute, something that Tanzanian government trashed interpreting it directly to the Lake Malawi dispute. When Tanzania’s President mentioned about Tanzanian Defence Force being ready to defend their land, some Malawian citizens interpreted it as if he made reference to Lake Malawi dispute. In his speech, Kikwete did not mention Malawi for Tanzania is also exchanging words with Rwanda. Recently Paul Kagame publicly threatened to hit Jakaya Kikwete, perhaps he referred to him, who knows. This link will take you to what Kagame said http://www.afroamerica.net/AfricaGL/2013/07/03/i-will-just-wait-for-you-at-the-right-place-and-i-will-hit-you-rwandan-general-paul-kagame-threatens-tanzanian-jakaya-kikwete/. All this shows that no country wishes to loose part of its land or resources, but let’s be patient. It is good to get things with clear mind before provoking war. It is good that Malawi has not officially responded to it and I wish it doesn’t so that peace may prevail. Let the peaceful negotiations take course.

Right now we are enjoying cordial relationship with Tanzania apart from exaggerated dispute which some sectors want to magnify. As we are talking, Tanzanians are freely passing through Malawi and Malawians are freely passing through Tanzania going to other countries or even settle in either country. Malawians are trading with Tanzanians getting cars and other goods through Tanzania’s port. Diplomatic ties are still intact. As I am writing, Tanzanians and Malawians are using Lake Malawi/Nyasa. Isn’t that good? So why talk about war?

My reasoning is as follows; since time in memorial, Malawi and Tanzania have both peacefully used Lake Malawi/Nyasa up until Malawi issued Sure-stream oil drilling license. Probably Tanzania is thinking about its citizens that they will suffer if oil drilling starts on Lake Malawi. That can be good reasoning, isn’t it?

On the same note, an ordinary Malawian who benefits from fishing will also suffer. When oil drilling starts, it is only the political elites who may benefit. Tell me, what have we really benefited from Kayerekela millennium mine since it begun? Have we experienced any economic growth through it? Almost none and we are just like before or even worse! We only bank on farming.

Apart from oil drilling, we can increase on manufacturing industry which for many years we have not put much effort. I suggest, Malawi government haut oil drilling for the sake of an ordinary citizen. I think Tanzania will also be happy, isn’t it Tanzanians?

Coming to Tanzania’s point of correcting border colonial errors, if they so wish, though not affecting other African countries, I suggest we do. One Malawian national called Pef, on his response to my earlier article on Lake Malawi dispute rebuked me saying, “Musanditukwanitse mwanva! Intelligent people are busy solving problems but only the wise avoids problems. Kodi iwe ukudzitcha pastor Masikmau iwe, ukati negotiations should end without war, ukuganiza zingatheke popanda wina kugonja?….” (Give me a break, you who call yourself pastor Masikamu, do you think the dispute can end without one country giving up?…”. He thinks I call myself a pastor while I am not one, so interesting. However, don’t you think what he said has some sense? Probably yes. He suggested that for the sake of peace, Malawi should give up.

I believe he was a Malawian because he wrote in efficient Chichewa language. Pastor Salanje had a similar idea also. While agreeing with them, I believe we can do it in a better way by implementing a win-win game, or what do you think my fellow Malawian citizens? Malawi has a very small land size than our good neighbour, Tanzania. Since Nyasaland lost some land to Tanganyika under British-Germany treaty, we can reason together with our neighbours to give us part of their land while we hand over part of Lake Malawi.

In this way, correcting colonial border errors will go in favour of both of us because the errors made by colonial masters did not only affect Tanganyika on Lake Nyasa but also Nyasaland on the land size. I think if any of the two countries deny this equal lion’s share, that country is provocative and aggressive.

In my conclusion I would like to say that, let both Malawi and Tanzania pray that no country looses on the resolution taking place through SADC former heads of states but that we will have a win-win type of conflict resolution. I suggest that we do not in any way mention war for such an idea is truly not from God but the evil one to disrupt our peace because the devil hates peace but delights in deaths. Thank God, Jesus brought life through his death on the cross so that we can live beyond death. We are brothers and sisters from way back before colonialism of which colonialism separated our families into these two countries.

If either of the countries is not satisfied with the results of these negotiations, we can still seek help from International Court of Justice (ICJ), and if its resolution will go in favour of one of the two countries or both, we shall keep peace.

God bless Tanzania and Malawi!

*Pastor Robert Masikamu (Public Advisor).

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