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Government tough on Lake Malawi row

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The Lake Malawi boundary wrangle between Malawi and Tanzania seems far from over as the latter has started promoting its new map which shows the lake as belonging to Tanzania, but Chief Secretary, George Mkondiwa, has informed all government controlling officers to be on alert and disregard such propaganda.

President Peter Mutharika told Parliament during budget session of the House in May this year that the entire lake, reportedly rich in oil and gas, belongs to the people of Malawi but the East African country has insisted that it owns half of the northern part of the lake.

A forum of former African heads of state chaired by former president of Mozambique, Joachim Chissano, tasked to mediate in the wrangle is also not through with the exercise but Tanzania has on several occasions resorted to provocations, like for instance introducing ships on the lake last year.

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In a circular dated August 29 which The Daily Times has seen, signed by Mkondiwa and addressed to Principal Secretaries, heads of departments, chief executives of city and town councils and all District Commissioners, Mkondiwa has advised the controlling officers to reject such propaganda by refusing to use any documentation or material carrying such misinformation.

In an interview Wednesday, Mkondiwa confirmed having authored the letter but could not be drawn to comment further.

Reads part of the circular Ref No CS/S/001: “Malawi will never accept, and has never, at any time acquiesced to Tanzania’s unwarranted and unjustified territorial claims, government would like to call upon all officials in government ministries, departments and agencies to be alert on this matter and to continue rejecting and refusing to use all such maps appearing in any form or media including calendars, diaries, official documentation or other documentation for any purpose or business.”

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The officials are further being cautioned from accepting such maps during international conferences and workshops.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francis Kasaila, was not available for comment but Principal Secretary for the Ministry, Dalitso Kabambe, explained that as far as the country is concerned, its territories remain as defined in the boundary treaty and there is no such a thing as a “new unilaterally promulgated map”.

“As you are aware, Malawi committed itself to participate in the high level mediation and feels that it is the right forum for resolving the dispute as opposed to resorting to futile media pronouncements.

“Accordingly, Malawi has been actively engaged to encourage the high level mediation team to set-up date for the next round,” Kabambe said.

He also indicated that the mediation had stalled in 2014 due to elections in the country and thereafter, in 2015 due to elections in Tanzania, adding that the high level mediation team is in the process of setting-up a possible date for the next round of negotiation meeting.

Asked on assertions that Malawi has taken a soft stance on the national issue, Kabambe said that despite its commitment and participation in the mediation talks, the country’s position has always been consistent and very clear, and that is, its boundaries are not negotiable.

The country is basing its ownership rights on the 1890 agreement between Britain, her colonial master and Germany.

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