Malawi won't go to war with Tanzania - Joyce Banda
President Joyce Banda has declared that Malawi will not go to war with Tanzania despite the two countries' disagreements over the boundary along Lake Malawi.
She told media managers yesterday at New State House in Lilongwe that neither Malawi nor Tanzania should be involved in war-mongering as the two nations are currently holding diplomatic discussions over the matter.
"Much as it is a well-known fact that the lake belongs to Malawi, we will engage our Tanzanian counterparts and resolve our differences diplomatically and amicably," said Banda during the meeting where Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi and Media Council of Malawi officials were present.
According to Banda, there is no reason why officials and citizens of the two nations should be talking of war when many channels of resolving the matter including even the legal route have not yet been explored and exhausted.
"Even if the diplomatic route fails, it does not necessarily mean we will go to war with our brothers and sisters in Tanzania, because we can resort to other channels to solve the matter," she explained.
Besides, officials of the two countries who will meet in Mzuzu on August 20, 2012 the president disclosed that she is going to hold diplomatic talks with President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania over the issue in Mozambique next week where the two leaders will be attending SADC Heads of State Summit.
"I am travelling to Mozambique soon to attend Sadc Summit. I will take that opportunity to meet my brother Jakaya Kikwete to discuss the matter," she said.
Banda's explanation on Malawi's stance on the matter comes after some sections of the media both in Malawi and Tanzania speculated that the two nations could go to war over the border issue.
The boundary differences between the two countries date back to the colonial era and refuse to die as they resurface time and again.
Malawians have all along known that they own Lake Malawi, a position supported by a treaty and agreements at both African Union and its predecessor the Organization of African Unity.
According to Foreign Affairs Minister Ephraim Chiume, there are a number of treaties that show that Malawi owns the lake and Tanzanian's claims are therefore surprising.
One of such treaties is the July 1, 1890, Anglo-Germany Treaty, which clearly describes the two countries as the border as running: "To the south by the line that starts on the coast of the northern border of Mozambique Province and follows the course of the Rovuma River to the point where the Messinge flows into the Rovuma.
From here, the line runs westward on the parallel of latitude to the shore of Lake Nyasa. Turning north, it continues along the eastern, northern, and western shores of the lake until it reaches the northern bank of the mouth of the Songwe."
Despite that clear historical and geographic description on the border, Tanzania now disputes what is in the international treaties.
While in the past few years, Tanzania was silent on the issue of the boundary, analysts say the recent exploration of oil may have prompted the Tanzanians to start singing the same old song refusing to accept that Lake Malawi wholly belongs to Malawi.
Five Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials were yesterday convicted by Lilongwe First Grade Magistrate Court for assaulting two MPs, Abel Kayembe and Titus Malipa, three years ago.
The convicts are MCP's administrative Secretary Potiphar Chidaya, William Phakamisa—a former driver to MCP president John Tembo, Patrick Moyo, Potiphar Kachitsa and Grace Masamba.
They were answering charges of unlawful wounding, malicious damage and assault occasioning bodily harm.
The incident happened on July 1, 2009 at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe. At that time, the two MPs were seen to be working against party president Tembo.
Delivering a ruling on the matter, First Grade Magistrate Cecilia Onsewa found Chidaya, Phakamisa and Kachitsa guilty of the offence of unlawful wounding.
The court also convicted Phakamisa for the offence of malicious damage to property, while Moyo and Masamba were found guilty of the offence of assault occasioning bodily harm.
However one of the accused, Lucy Kalebe was acquitted of all the three charges, as she earlier told the court that she was not present at the party's headquarters when the incident occurred.
Police prosecutor Prescott Mwayiulipo asked the court to give a stiffer punishment to the convicts, to serve as a lesson to other politicians.
"The victims' rights were violated. Every person has a right to participate in politics. There is, therefore, need for stiffer punishment to the convicts to deter other politicians from violence," Mwayiulipo said.
In mitigation, lawyer for the convicts, Gift Nankhuni, pleaded for a suspended sentence.
"The offences my clients committed have no fixed punishment. I would like to move the court to consider giving them a suspended sentence. These people are politicians. The conviction itself is a punishment. They will not vie for any position in the next seven years and possibly no chance of employment," Nankhuni said.
He also asked the court to consider the circumstances under which the offences were committed, citing that the victims came to the offices of the people convicted.
Magistrate Onsewa has since adjourned the matter to August 17 2012 for sentencing. The five will continue being on bail.