A UNIVERSITY lecturer has said it will be a big shame if Tanzania and Malawi go to war over the disputed border on Lake Nyasa.
Professor Mwesiga Baregu told the 'Daily News' that Tanzania and her southern neighbour should resolve the dispute through diplomacy.
"This is not a new dispute between Tanzania and Malawi, I can recall in the 1960s we almost went to war. I suggest that our leaders should avoid provocations," he advised. The St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) lecturer said the matter had been ignored for long.
He said it was high time the lasting solution was sought to avoid soiling bilateral ties. "Let our politicians play a mature and diplomatic approach in this issue. There are three ways to do this, it can be through the International Court of Justice, the African Union or the Southern African Development Community," he argued.
He gave an example of Botswana and Namibia whose dispute on the Kasikili/Sedudu Island was resolved amicably through the International Court of Justice. On his part, the Civic United Front Chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, noted that Tanzania should stay awake in defending its borders in case of anything.
"I think this dispute should be resolved diplomatically and our leaders should ask for support from neighbouring countries like Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa," he said. Prof Lipumba further blamed the multinational companies for instigating the dispute to safeguard their interests within the Lake Nyasa.
"Tanzania should defend its rights and the border line lying in the middle of the Lake should be maintained but in doing all this we should at all costs avoid military intervention," he said. Meanwhile, the border dispute between the two countries is expected to dominate discussion in the House today when Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe tables his budget estimates.
Several lawmakers last week demanded the government to state its position clearly after Malawi's Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Patrick Kabambe, was quoted in the media as claiming that the entire Lake Nyasa belongs to Malawi.
"We categorically put it to them (Tanzania) that as far as we are concerned, the entire lake belongs to Malawi," Mr Kabambe was quoted by the AFP News Agency as saying. The National Assembly was told late last week that, Tanzania is ready to respond to any provocation from Malawi following the dispute.
The Acting Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Mr Samuel Sitta, said the government had been shocked by a statement by Malawian official while discussions between the two countries were underway. In response, Mr Sitta, who is also the Minister for East African Cooperation, urged Tanzanians living in the three regions surrounding the lake to continue with their normal activities.
"We are firm and in a better position on this. Our people in Mbeya, Iringa and Ruvuma need not worry, they should proceed with lawful activities in the lake," the minister said.