Malawian women sought divine intervention last week on the lake dispute, while online commentators claimed that the mediation of the dispute has been compromised. The stand-off between Malawi and Tanzania on Lake Malawi’s (or Lake Nyasa) boundaries is currently being discussed by the Africa Forum of former African Heads of State and Government, which is chaired by Mozambique’s former president Joaquim Chissano.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the Malawian government is unhappy about the Tanzanian national, Professor John Tesha, who is the Executive Secretary of the Forum, stating that he may compromise the resolution process.
Foreign Affairs minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume explained to the press on Saturday that
We expressed the same to the forum. We were also concerned about the security of our submissions considering that the executive secretary is Tanzanian. As to whether he should remain executive secretary or recuse himself, is a matter for the forum to decide.
We have expressed those concerns to the chairperson of the forum. Even when I was submitting our position as Malawi to former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano, we actually expressed those concerns and even looking at the security of our submissions considering that Tanzania had not made theirs.
So we were concerned about the security of the submission considering that the executive secretary of the forum is Tanzanian.
Chiume also noted that no further exclusive prospecting licences will be given to companies interested in prospecting for oil in the lake while the dispute remains unresolved. Currently, two companies, Surestream Petroleum and SacOil, have been issued licences by the Malawian government for three out of the six zones.
If the Forum is unable to settle on a mutually-acceptable resolution, Chiume said the case would be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, Tanzania is not a signatory of the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction clause so it is not bound by its decisions.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s president Joyce Banda has expressed optimism about the potential foreign exchange earnings from the mining sector.