Johannesburg, South Africa – Malawian President Arthur Peter Mutharika has told African leaders to respect territorial borders and sovereignty of nations in order to foster Pan Americanism and peace on the African continent. Mutharika made the remarks during the opening of the 4th ordinary session of the Pan-African parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Although Mutharika did not make a reference to the Malawi-Tanzania border dispute, this is the 1st time the President has touched on the Lake Malawi border wrangle with Tanzania openly on an international podium.
“Our national boundaries should never be an excuse for division. I have used the word excuse because excuses are not reasons anyway. From the 1890 Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty to the 1964 Resolution on Border Disputes among African States by the O.A.U, there has never been a reason for disrespecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations. Africa did not come to be what it is by mistake,” said Mutharika.
He further reminded the Pan African parliamentarians that Africa co-exists peacefully because “our forefathers who founded the countries the leaders govern today valued unity in spite of our boundaries.”
“In 1964, we all pledged that we will respect the borders we found by colonialism. In Resolution 17(1) of the 1st ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, all member states solemnly pledged and declared to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.
The most outstanding of those forefathers was Julius Nyerere who sponsored the resolution and led Tanzania in playing an active role in respecting the territorial integrity we inherited from colonialism. Paradoxically, our unity lies in the borders that divide us. As we gather here, we already have any wars to fight and win on many social, political and economic fronts. We need peace and security to prevail across Africa,” said Mutharika.
Malawi and Tanzania have been at loggerheads over ownership of the eastern half of Lake Malawi since 2012 when Malawi started oil exploration in the fresh water lake. The matter has been in the hands of the forum of former heads of state in Southern Africa for mediation with former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), acting as arbitrators.