Tanzania High Commissioner to Malawi Patrick Tsere has made it crystal clear that part of Lake Malawi belongs to both countries – Malawi and Tanzania.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Zodiak radio on Thursday, Tsere said Dodoma would be able to justify its stand at any level and that currently the lake belongs to the two countries unless discussions prove otherwise.
He however said Tanzania was still open for talks with Malawi on the dispute before this issue is brought forward to mediators.
“I believe it [Lake Malawi] belongs to both countries; Malawi, Tanzania, and to Mozambique,” faulting the 1890 Heligoland treaty signed by Germany and Britain giving the entire lake to Malawi.
The agreement was further agreed to in 1963 by the Heads of State of OAU. The African Union made similar resolutions in 2002 and 2007.
But Malawi has pulled out of the talks accusing Tanzania of playing double standards, according Malawi President Joyce Banda.
“When we thought we were in dialogue our friends were launching a new map showing that a good part of Lake Malawi belongs to them, they harassed our fishermen and threatened to blow up any boat found on Lake Malawi so we can’t continue with dialogue with this spirit,” said President Banda when she announced the pull out.
High Commissioner Tsere however said it was not true that Tanzania was doing the contrary and blamed his country’s media of misquoting officials on the new map.
“The map is just for administrative purposes and not that it is a sign that we have claimed the lake through that map as the media reported. We are still committed to dialogue,” he said.
But it could be too late, little because Malawi now says the only way out is to resolve the matter is to take it to the International Court of Justice.
“As Malawi we want the matter to be referred to the International Court of Justice,” said senior secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs Patrick on Thursday.
High Commissioner however said Tanzania received the concerns raised by and that formally they have replied.
“Tanzania received the concerns raised by the Malawi president and has already replied formally. I cannot disclose the content of the reply. [But] this matter is still in its prime level. We are still talking on the issue until it is resolved amicably,” said Tsere.
Mr. Kambambe, the senior secretary in Malawi’s Foreign Affairs ministry, confirmed to have received the communication from Tanzania but insisted that the matter be referred to ICJ.
Ironically, on Thursday Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ephraim Chiume visited Karonga a border district with Tanzania to assure people there of maximum security amid the simmering diplomatic tension.