Don’t give conflicting signals on Lake Malawi dispute

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Malawi should adopt a firm stand on the lake dispute with neighbouring Tanzania and avoid giving conflicting signals on how she wants the misunderstanding resolved, a leading political analyst says.

“So far, Malawi has done well in containing the situation in a way that the situation has not been inflamed further. We have remained calm and kept the relations of the two countries cordial.

“However, Malawi has to be firm. But as it has been rightly observed, we haven’t been. We must also emphasise on dialogue instead of mentioning several courses of action,” Chancellor College Political Scientist Mustafa Hussein said.

“It’s high time the strategy was more focused,” he added.

The observation comes in the wake of recent pillar-to-post public pronouncements by the Malawi government that it would take the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the African Union or indeed resume round table discussions with Tanzania on the dispute.

Hussein said Malawi should also respond firmly to Tanzania’s “provocative antics”.

Information minister Moses Kunkuyu has defended Malawi’s strategy, saying dialogue is what has been given priority at the moment.

“The decisions have been made in the spirit of dialogue. We want to exhaust those channels first that’s why we have returned to the talks after they also signaled willingness to continue with the talks. It’s not like we just want to keep on changing positions,” he said.

He said Malawi is confident of the strategy she has employed and was satisfied that Tanzania too has, in her letter of commitment to Malawi, indicated willingness for peaceful co-existence.

Hussein said dragging the matter to the UN, the AU or involving the ICJ would only be blowing the matter out of proportions as many other options remain unused.

“Conflict is better handled by those involved. Despite the wrangle, Malawi-Tanzania relations remain cordial hence the two countries’ governments must popularise this concept of solving the dispute at the lowest levels possible such as Sadc,” he added.

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