Zambia’s president Michael Sata told the SADC heads that Zambia is ready to host refugees if Tanzania and Malawi decide to go to war over the dispute on the Lake Malawi borders.
Sata interjected the SADC chairperson when the chairperson mentioned Lake Malawi dispute in his speech.
Southern African leaders were meeting in Mozambique for two days.
A long-dormant border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania has reignited due Malawi granting oil companies permits to exploration work.
Foreign ministers from the two countries are set to meet on Monday in Malawi’s northern town of Mzuzu City to discuss the 50-year dispute, which stems from colonial-era border lines around the lake.
At issue is a largely undeveloped swath of Lake Malawi, where Malawi has awarded a license to British firm Surestream to explore for oil in northeastern waters near Tanzania.
Tanzania is already savouring the prospect of energy wealth with the announcement in February that Norwegian oil group Statoil and US company ExxonMobil had together discovered there a large natural gas field with reserves estimated at 140bn m³.
Now it also wants a slice of anything discovered near its shores in Lake Malawi.
The leaders of both countries have however made it clear that they are not interested in waging war over the dispute.