4 July 2013

Malawi: Joyce Banda, Opposition Leaders Hold Round Talks

Lilongwe — President Dr Joyce Banda on Thursday held round table discussions at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, with leaders of opposition parties in the country over the ongoing border dispute with the neighbouring Tanzania.

The talks were held behind closed doors.

Being a matter of national importance the President took it upon herself to invite leaders of the opposition parties to bring them on a round table to discuss the issue which has seen Tanzania claiming ownership of a part of Lake Malawi.

"It has pleased me to invite you all to come here so that we can talk about matters of national importance. Even if our political views may differ, but at the centre of all this there is this little country Malawi we love so much and the people of Malawi," said the President in her remarks.

The President said as members of opposition, they are very important to the country's development and they have a lot to contribute in their capacity as members of the opposition.

"I should also take this opportunity to thank you for making it possible for the budget to pass, this is one of the most important things if our country is to move forward," Dr Banda said.

During the meeting the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) was represented by its leader John Tembo and Lingson Belekanyama, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had George Chaponda, Atupele Muluzi and Kandi Padambo represented the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Other opposition party members who were present included Mark Kastonga of Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM), Friday Jumbe of New Labour Party (NLP) and Godfrey Shawa of Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).

Commenting on the meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ganda Chiume who was one of the cabinet ministers present during the meeting said the meeting was important as it accorded the Government to brief the opposition parties where the country is with such matters of national interest.

"We discussed a number of national issues one of them being the border wrangle with Tanzania. We have updated the opposition parties of what we have done so far and where we are going which I believe was a vital thing to do," said Chiume.

Chiume further said the issue of the border dispute is now in the hands of the former Southern African Heads who will come in the country in the next two weeks to have an audience with the President.

Leader of Opposition in Parliament John Tembo, the MCP President, applauded the gesture shown by the president to present them with an opportunity to be briefed and have a say on such matters which he said are of paramount interest to the general population.

"It has been a very successful, open and transparent meeting. The President believes that when she is dealing with matters of national interest she should bring together all groups who are interested and we members of the opposition are part of that group.

"We should learn from this, to be discussing things in truth not telling propaganda as part of our history which is wrong," said the MCP leader.

Muluzi and Jumbe also spoke in support of the idea saying when it comes to issues of national importance like these; people across the political divide speak in one voice.

Also present during the meeting which lasted for over two hours, were renowned historian Dr Desmond Duwa Phiri, acclaimed academician professor, Mzuzu University Chancellor Prof Brown Chimphamba and veteran politician Gwanda Chakuamba.

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