The (AU) has said although it is ready to assist in resolving the difference between Malawi and Tanzania over Lake Malawi, the long-lasting solution to such a problem is for both countries to look at the issue in a Pan-Africanist way.
The 54-member Pan-African organisation has said a similar problem can arise if minerals are discovered in a border between Malawi and another country.
AU Regional Delegate to Southern Africa, Sothern African Development Community (Sadc) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Auguste Ngomo, said this in an interview on Friday.
Ngomo said the issue between Malawi and Tanzania is due to mineral resources believed to be in the lake.
“So if you are in the spirit of the AU, of Pan-Africanism, you are going to understand that for us, if really Tanzania is Pan-Africanist, and Malawi also has a spirit of Pan Africanism, this conflict can be solved easily. Because we know the conflict is not about the border, but it’s about the resources in Lake Malawi, the minerals. It could be possible for Malawi and Tanzania to set up a company, to extract together and dispatch the money based on different arrangements. That is the spirit of Pan-Africanist,” Ngomo said.
He added: “That problem will also come the day we discover that there is gold or uranium, for instance, between Malawi and Zambia. It will lead to the same crisis. Yes, we are ready to assist, we are ready to contribute to the solutions but if we are to think at the level of Pan-Africanism, one continent, this thing cannot happen.”
Malawi and Tanzania have been involved in a dispute over the ownership of Lake Malawi since 2012, when there were reports of oil exploration on the lake.
With mediation talks by former heads of state in the Sadc still ongoing, a cold war between the two countries continues raging.
Tanzania has recently been reported as promoting documents showing that it owns part of the lake, while Malawi through Chief Secretary George Mkondiwa last month issued a circular urging all senior government officials to reject such documents.
Meanwhile, Ngomo has said the AU can only assist if it is asked to.
“We know we have a problem between Malawi and Tanzania but the first level of intervention always is between the two countries. If it is not working, they can involve a third country to come. And if it is not working, they can involve the AU or United Nations. So we have different levels of interventions,” he said.
After indirect exchanges between the two countries in 2012, mediation between the two countries started in 2013. Former leaders from the Sadc region, led by former president of Mozambique Joachim Chissano, started mediating on the issue.
Tanzania is claiming the northern part of the lake, citing international customary law.
On the other hand Malawi argues it owns whole lake. It argues that the surface that is not in Mozambique, including the waters that are next to the shoreline of Tanzania, according to the Heligoland Treaty of 1890 between Great Britain and Germany concerning the border falls within its territory.
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