Referring the border dispute between Tanzania and Malawi to the forum of retired southern African heads of state is a waste of time, according to Malawian President Joyce Banda. President Banda said on Monday that the three months given to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) retired heads of state and government to mediate in the dispute had elapsed.
“Our earlier position was to go to the International Court of Justice over this matter but we did not want to be seen to be underrating the forum of former SADC leaders as our friends (Tanzania) had proposed to engage them.
“We are still waiting for them to make a determination. But if I have to tell Malawians the truth, it is a waste of time. It is better to go to the International Court of Justice as we will be happy to respect the ruling of the court,” she told a news conference upon her return home from the US.
In Dar es Salaam, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said Tanzania was surprised by Malawi’s decision to reject mediation. Mr Membe told The Citizen yesterday that Malawi did not even bother to officially communicate its decision to Tanzania.
“It’s true that they have opted to pull out of mediation. Malawi informed (former Mozambican) President (Joaquim) Chissano of its decision…they have yet to get in touch with us. We got the news from Mr Chissano,” Mr Membe said.
Ms Banda also said that a Tanzanian national working in the Office of the Chairperson of the Forum for SADC retired Heads of State and Government leaked Malawi’s documents to the Tanzanian government before Tanzania had made its submission.
President Banda said the official had compromised mediation.“We presented the legal documents to former Mozambique President Chissano before Tanzania did and the secretary leaked our documents to Tanzania.
“Although he has agreed to recuse himself from the issue, we can no longer trust the proceedings on this matter,” she said, adding that the matter should be taken before the International Court of Justice. Mr Membe said Malawi’s concerns had been addressed after the Tanzanian national was replaced with a Mozambican official.
“Malawi should know that Tanzania has not yet ratified the ICJ protocol…the best thing is for them to come back to the negotiating table to see what we can do next after the failed mediation,” Mr Membe said.
Reported by Rex Chikoko and Mkinga Mkinga