Malawi’s late leader Bingu wa Mutharika wrote Tanzania in 2005 over the need to reaffirm boundaries with Malawi after ‘small conflicts’ were reported on Lake Malawi, President Joyce Banda disclosed on Sunday.

Banda said this at a news briefing at New State House in Lilongwe following her meeting with Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete on the Lake Malawi dispute. She said Kikwete attributed the recent warmongering to sensationalisation in the Tanzanian media and opposition politicians.

Said Banda: “The President [of Tanzania] indicated that our late president wrote to him in 2005 and he mentioned the dates. We should have the copy in our office. People were complaining of arrests and intimidation, so he wanted the countries to reaffirm their borders.”

President Banda said Malawi maintains her position that the lake belongs to the country and Tanzanian founding president Julius Nyerere made the same position clear in his address to the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU)—a predecessor of the African Union (AU). President Benjamin Mkapa also reaffirmed the same position, said Banda.

“The president said he is the commander-in-chief and his Cabinet has not yet discussed anything. We will leave [this] to the technical teams starting [their discussions] tomorrow [Wednesday] in Mzuzu. He assured me to assure Malawians that nothing reported in the media is true about the war,” said Banda.

The President, flanked by Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Mganda Chiume and Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu, said the current source of the Tanzanian claims could not be ascertained, but nobody has mentioned oil exploration so far.

“The president did not raise the issue of oil exploration, the same with me as we are talking of the boundary. In terms of the oil exploration licence, we are reviewing the same here as the media reported of bribes. We don’t know whether they were tendered, but nobody has spoken about the oil exploration,” said Banda. She reiterated that Malawi’s position is to resolve the matter diplomatically through dialogue and it is early to bring in other countries such as colonial masters Britain and Germany or organisations such as Sadc to mediate in the conflict.

Banda, who thanked local media and politicians for being patriotic over the matter, said she had assumed the position of deputy Sadc chairperson after being elected unanimously and Kikwete is now chairperson of the Politics, Defence and Security organ of Sadc, which would entail that the two work for peace.

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