— mabvuto banda (@bvutoB) August 1, 2013
The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the former US President Bill Clinton visited Malawi’s President Joyce Banda in the last two weeks. Lake Malawi (or was it the oil it sits on) and the ongoing dispute between Tanzania and Malawi over the territory was high on the agenda for the meetings.
Blair and his wife visited Malawi last week and oil may have spurred on this visit according to one online commentator. Yesterday, Clinton made headlines following discussions with Banda about the border wrangle. No further details has been disclosed from these meetings.
Clinton was in Malawi to visit projects supported through his foundation including those under the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Clinton Development Initiative. He left Malawi today with his daughter.
On 14 July 2013, Banda also met with the former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano and the former South African president Thabo Mbeki to discuss the ongoing border dispute. Mbeki and Chissano represent the 38-member Africa Forum of former African Heads of State and Government that was called upon late last year to mediate the 50-year-old lake dispute earlier this year.
In February 2013, the Government of Malawi confirmed that Festus Mogae, Chissano and Mbeki, the former heads of state of Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa respectively, would form the panel to review Malawi and Tanzania’s submissions to the Africa Forum. This Forum will reach a decision on the dispute by 30 September 2013 although Malawi would like the case to be taken up by the International Court of Justice.
The Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen reported (27 July 2013) that Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo “could be angling for a mediation role in the Lake Nyasa border conflict” because he visited Banda in early June 2013, at least according to an article published by Africa Energy Intelligence. It is unlikely that he will be involved in mediating the dispute as the team has already been decided through the Africa Forum although he has been called on before to mediate conflict within the continent.
Obasanjo’s motivation to visit Malawi may lie elsewhere. Through his good relations with Chevron, the American multinational energy corporation, Obasanjo has helped the company secure energy projects,
When he backed energy exploration firm Chevron in its bid to build a gas pipeline between Cabinda’s offshore and Soyo in Angola by way of a section passing through DRC waters. Obasanjo introduced Chevron Angola’s boss, Alan Kleier, to DRC President Joseph Kabila to settle the issue.
It could be that Chevron sent the former president to Malawi to test the waters to see if the rift with Tanzania would freeze exploration on the lake for a long period or whether it could consider debuting in the contested waters quickly.
Banda held a meeting with Ali Moshiri, the President of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company, in New York, in September 2012 “to persuade the company to explore to explore oil on Lake Malawi“.