Malawi, Tanzania border talks: Minister urges restraint


Malawi Government has warned against careless statements as its experts and those from its northern neighbour Tanzania engage in a meeting to diplomatically resolve their border dispute.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ephraim Mganda Chiume said this in Mzuzu yesterday as he opened a meeting of the two countries’ experts seeking to hammer a lasting solution to the disagreements on their border.

“Let me state that it is very easy for the discussion to break down and lead in a stalemate because of careless statements. Let us avoid making statements that can undermine the process,” said Chiume as he wound up his speech.

“More importantly, let us remember that we are here representing the multitude of Malawians and Tanzanians out there who want an urgent resolution of this matter so that they can continue living peacefully.

“This is not an opportunity to score points or seek fame. Rather, we need to do what is legally right for our people.”

The minister’s statement comes at a time Tanzanian media reports, quoting officials there, indicated that the east African country was ready for war against its neighbour over the border issues.

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and his Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe, just like their Malawian counterparts Joyce Banda and Chiume, respectively, have indicated that the two countries will diplomatically resolve the matter in which Tanzania claims a 50 percent ownership of the northern part of the Lake Malawi.

“The people of Malawi and Tanzania have every confidence that this meeting will clear the misunderstanding on the border between our two countries once and for all,” said Chiume.

“We cannot keep on talking about the same issue for over 40 years. The two countries are full of expectation that an amicable solution can be found out of these discussions.”

During the meeting, held in camera, the experts from the two countries were expected to examine aspects “especially the legal issues” on the border and advise on the way forward.

The two sides were also expected to share documents and reach a consensus to be passed on to the ministerial meeting to be held in Lilongwe Friday.

Director of Surveys and Mapping in the Tanzania’s Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development Dr Selassie Mayunga said Chiume’s remarks offered the two parties’ guidance, stressing Tanzania expected “brotherly discussions.”

Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Malawi Patrick Tsere, Foreign Affairs Ministry Director of Legal Affairs Irene Kasyanju and Assistant Director in the Prime Minister’s office Yokobety Malisa were also among the Tanzanian delegation.

Malawi’s High Commissioner to Tanzania Flossie Gomile Chidyaonga, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Patrick Kabambe and Lands and Housing Principal Secretary Ivy Luhanga were some high profile individuals on the Malawian delegation.

Meanwhile, Membe, his Permanent Secretary John Haule, Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development Anna Tibaijuka and Permanent Secretary Patrick Rutabanzibwa are expected to attend the ministerial meeting.

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