At the beginning of the month, the Chairperson of the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Governments and former Mozambiquan president, Joaquim Chissano, accepted the Government of Malawi and Tanzania’s December submission of a Joint Application of Mediation to the forum for assistance with negotiation over Lake Malawi’s boundaries.
The Government of Malawi, through the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ephraim Chiume, submitted its position on the dispute to Chissano in Maputo, Mozambique. Tanzania is yet to submit its position, although the deadline was the 31st of January, 2013.
The forum has been requested to step in as the two countries failed to reach a consensus on the lake’s boundaries last year. The dispute has been linked to the oil reserves that lie below Lake Malawi. The Government of Malawi has already awarded two companies, Surestream Petroleum and SacOil, exclusive prospecting licences.
Earlier this month, the outgoing African Union Chair and Benin’s president, Thomas Yayi Boni, during his visits to Malawi and Tanzania, praised the two countries for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing ownership dispute.
This comes after Tanzania’s president, Jakaya Kikwete, emphasised earlier this month that the dispute will not end in conflict
There is no bleeding conflict between the two countries; however, I don’t see the need for the situation to be translated into a bleeding conflict.
Chiume would agree. Last year, he explained, “we don’t believe that we can afford to go to war” although the Government of Malawi is protecting citizens living along the lake shore.
For more information on the dispute over Lake Malawi, or Lake Nyasa, as it is called in Tanzania, take a look at our other blog posts listed under the category “Lake Malawi Dispute“.