A state of confusion ensued yesterday at the Malawi High Commission offices after residents originating from that country living in Dar es Salaam crowded into the office building expecting a special message from the High Commissioner.
However, having arrived at the office building they were deflated as a diplomatic official informed them that the High Commissioner Flossie Chidyaonga had not arranged for such a meeting.
Malawians who had arrived at the High Commission located at Mikocheni B were anxious about the message they were told was to be given, considering the fact that Malawi and Tanzania are currently at loggerheads over border line dispute along Lake Nyasa.
This reporter who arrived at the scene witnessed Malawian nationals informing diplomatic officials that someone had called the leader of the association of Malawians living in the country, asking him to inform all Malawian nationals to converge at the High Commission yesterday morning for a meeting.
Madam Chidyaonga and her staff were perplexed over the message, wondering who made the call as her office made no appointment to meet with Malawians in the country, and at such an unlikely time as 09.30 am.
Contrary to the good mood when the envoy calls regular meetings to discuss issues pertaining to their country, she said yesterday’s abrupt meeting was uncalled for.
However, in order to quench their thirst, the envoy accepted to meet three representatives from the crowd of around 100 youths aged between 18 and 35 years, held discussions with them in her office and asked them to pass her message to the others, so that she and her staff pursue routine work.
The message she relayed to the group was essentially in connection with the host country’s national census expected to be on August 26, officials noted.
She reminded them that they need to have with them valid foreign permits for them to be properly identified and acknowledged as foreign residents.
Ties between Tanzania and Malawi have often been strained, first by mutual hostility arising from attitudes to white minority regimes and intolerance of dissent in Malawi, during the 1960s.
It was also at that time that Malawi produced maps to show that the Berlin Conference of 1884 had decreed that the whole of Lake Nyasa (which President Kamuzu Banda renamed) wholly belonged to Malawi.
Tanzania rejected that faulty map making exercise, and in the late 1970s the two countries briefly exchanged artillery fire before Malawi abandoned its antics.
Mutual ties were revived in the late 1990s with the two countries opening High Commission offices, but prospects of gas or oil findings soured ties again.