Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda
Tanzania has told Malawi that it can go ahead with the exploration of oil and gas on Lake Malawi as long as it is within its borders on the north eastern part of the lake.
Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told the BBC on Thursday that international practices give his country half of the lake, therefore Malawi can go ahead with the exploration of gas and oil exercise strictly on its waters.
“If Malawi does the exploration, it should be on understanding that we have a border then there is no problem. If they do this in disregard to the border then we say no, the lake is not [wholly] yours,” said Pinda.
President Joyce Banda, who was in Brussels for European Union meetings, reported Tanzania to the African Union whose leadership assured Malawi that the continental body would work tirelessly to resolve the border dispute.
Answering a question on why Tanzania’s security officials harassed Malawian fishermen, the prime minister said it could be that the Mala-wians drifted into Tanzania’s waters therefore the security officials had an obligation to question any other foreigner.
“It’s true we questioned them why they had gone that way, we told them go back where you belong,” he said.
He said although there is the border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania, his country wants to resolve the matter peacefully, saying the two countries have co-existed peacefully for a long time.
He dismissed reports that Tanzania is expanding its borders into Malawi because of the discovery of oil and gas on Lake Malawi, which is called Lake Nyassa in Tanzania, saying the issue started long ago.
The Anglo-Germany Treaty of 1890 also known as Heligoland Treaty, gave Malawi the sole ownership of Lake Malawi but Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete argues the treaty was flawed and needs revisiting.
Malawi wants the UN secretary general’s office to mediate in the lake border dispute and that Dodoma should commit itself to the International Court of Justice determinations, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Chiume.