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Lake Nyasa dispute: All’s well that ends well

Lake Nyasa dispute: All’s well that ends well

The president told the nation at the weekend that continual negotiations between Tanzania and Malawi, which have all along been cordial and progressive, should be given ample chance to produce an amicable solution to the dispute. He cautioned against inflammatory statements that he said could ruin the ongoing negotiations, ignite an explosive situation and raise a stink that could prove difficult to reverse.

While Tanzania maintains that its border with Malawi traverses Lake Nyasa in the middle giving both countries territorial water, Malawi, which refers to the lake as Malawi, maintains that its border with Tanzania runs along the shoreline on the Tanzanian side. The exchange of verbal accusations and demands between Tanzanian and Malawian politicians in recent months has thrown citizens in both Tanzania and Malawi into a pandemonium, fearing that military combat could be on the horizon.

But the truth is that both countries never prepared for war. When Mr Kikwete met Malawian President Joyce Banda at a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, recently, the two had amicable talks on the matter. In his address, President Kikwete ruled out the spectre of war with Malawi and called on everyone to concentrate on development projects.

He instead said that government leaders should now seize the lull in the skirmishes to sit down with their Malawian counterparts and look for an amicable solution to the problem -- which took root on July 1, 1890. It should be known that the problem was not caused by Malawi or Tanzania. It was caused by colonial masters (Britain and Germany) who drew the disputed border unilaterally and engaged in a bogus agreement known as The Treaty of Heligoland.

This highly controversial agreement, which was also known as the Anglo-Germany Heligoland Treaty, gave the entire lake to Malawi. But this unholy agreement, which the colonialists signed with glee, has been overtaken by time. It is completely obsolete. So, there is no logic in respecting decisions made by ruthless colonial masters whose hearts have never been close to Africa. Current International Law stipulates that where there is a body of water between two countries the border should be located in the middle.

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Author: EDITOR

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