‘Biased and false’
As the long standing dispute on the ownership of Lake Nyasa between Tanzania and Malawi continued, Tanzania dismissed as “biased and false” a CNN programme which claimed that Tanzania’s border with Malawi lies on the shores of Lake Nyasa. Tanzanian officials said that the broadcast had supported Malawi’s position on the dispute and did not augur well for efforts to settle the matter amicably. The government sent a protest note to the US-based television network on the reports, which it considered to be prejudiced, according to Director of the Tanzania Information Services, Assah Mwambene.
Asked whether the government had consulted US ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt, he said that Tanzania believed CNN to be an independent media house guided by an editorial policy which the US government had no mandate to influence.
The border row between the two countries follows claims by Malawi that it owns all of the northern part of Lake Nyasa, in accordance with the Heligoland Treaty of 1890 between the colonial powers Germany and Britain. Tanzania argues that, in accordance with international customary law, the border between the two countries is in the middle of the lake.
“Everything is compromised” – President Banda
After failing to reach agreement in 2012 (see TA 103 & TA 104) the two countries agreed that they would submit a letter to former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, who chairs the African Forum of former Heads of State within the Southern African Development Community, asking him to arbitrate the matter.
In the latest development, Malawi President Joyce Banda said that Malawi was giving up on mediation efforts and would take to the courts to settle the dispute. “We should not waste time on this (mediation),” she said in Lilongwe after returning from visits to the US and Britain. She said that the mediation bid by ex-President Chisano was “compromised because information submitted by Malawi was leaked to Tanzania”.
She accused the executive secretary of the forum, John Tesha, a Tanzanian national, of passing some vital information to his home country. “After surrendering our documents, we were told that they were leaked to Tanzania before the Tanzanians surrendered theirs,” Banda said. “We feel everything is compromised,” President Banda had earlier said the dispute had dragged on for too long and she was considering taking it to the International Court of Justice for arbitration.