THE last thing Tanzania would want is a border or territorial dispute with all the countries with which we share common borders.
Apart from flashes of insecurity of the past along the borders with Rwanda and Burundi originating from the civil wars in the two countries - and along the border with Uganda during the Idi Amin War of Aggression of the 1970s, the situation has largely been blissful at the borders.
Border disputes serve no good purpose other than causing mistrust among nations. In the most extreme cases, they have resulted into full-scale armed conflict between nations, a negation of the much-cherished spirit of good neighbourliness.
Experience has shown that such disputes are often related to the possession of natural resources such as rivers, fertile farmland, mineral or oil resources. Other conflicts are driven by culture, religion and ethnic nationalism.
According to analysts, border disputes result often from vague and unclear language in a treaty that set up the original boundary.
It is, therefore, very unfortunate that Tanzanians, long accustomed to peaceful existence with its neighbours should find itself embroiled in a simmering border row with our neighbours to the south, Malawi, the bone of contention this time being a dispute over oil and gas exploration on Lake Nyasa.
Already, there have been unfortunate statements from Lilongwe to the extent that the entire lake, which Malawi prefers to call Lake Malawi, belongs to them!
This, by implication, means that Tanzania is just there as mere tenant!Malawi is reported to be deeply engaged with exploration of both gas and oil in the eastern part of the lake, which even all regional, continental and global maps shows extending to both countries, like it is for Lake Victoria that is being shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
We echo a statement made by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe at a press conference in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that Malawi should halt such exploration pending finalisation of the ongoing discussions on the dispute.
From the minister's statement, it is obvious that there is trouble brewing at the border. Tanzania has not started this.The other side has. In the true spirit of good neighbourliness, African unity and SADC brotherhood, the volatile situation must be nipped in the bud.