News / Africa

    Malawi, Tanzania Lock Horns Over Lake

    A fisherman prepares fish beside Lake Malawi, 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Lilongwe, Malawi, April 3, 2009.
    A fisherman prepares fish beside Lake Malawi, 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Lilongwe, Malawi, April 3, 2009.
    Lameck Masina
    BLANTYRE, Malawi — Malawi and Tanzania are expected to hold a high level meeting August 20 on their standoff over oil and gas exploration in and ownership of Lake Malawi. The body of water - also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania - is the third-largest fresh water resource in Africa. 

    The dispute escalated last year when Malawi’s late president Bingu wa Mutharika granted British company Surestream Petroleum rights to explore the lake for oil and gas. Surestream is currently conducting an environmental impact assessment.

    The move infuriated Tanzania - which claims 50 percent of the lake. The government in Arusha is demanding a halt to all exploration activities until the question of ownership is resolved.

    Malawi sources its ownership of the entire lake to an 1890 treaty between former colonial powers Britain and Germany and says it was later reaffirmed by the Organization of African Unity as Malawi was gaining its independence in the early 1960s.  

    Malawi also says the treaty known as Heligoland was further reinforced and adopted by resolutions of the African Union in 2002 and 2007.

    Simburashe Mungoshi is a history and political science lecturer at the Malawi Polytechnic.

    “By this treaty it is clearly stated that the eastern boundary of Malawi and Tanzania is on the shores of Lake Malawi. However the treaty allowed the Tanganyika [now Tanzania] territory to use the waters for fishing and even for transportation," said Mungoshi. "Otherwise they recognize that the shores were the boundary and then there was the Organization of African Union which said upon independence the existing boundaries should be respected.”

    Tanzania rejects colonial era agreements as permanent and argues most international law supports sharing common bodies of water by bordering nations.

    The dispute goes back almost 50 years after both countries became independent.

    Mungoshi suggests the dispute can only be resolved by compromise.

    “When these boundaries were agreed upon by the British and Germans it was a give and take game," said the lecturer. "The British had to give up claims in some territories in Tanganyika area. Needless to say the Germans had also to give up. So in which case, if Tanzania wants a change in boundaries it would be a give and take. If they want something they must give something. Malawi is a land locked country; we need access to the sea. May be they could give us an equivalent piece of land to take us to the sea.”

    However there is no indication that such a trade would be possible.

    Chairperson of Tanzania’s Parliamentary Committee for Defense, Security and Foreign Affairs, Edward Lowassa, is quoted in a Tanzania online publication The Citizen  as telling reporters this month that the country is ready to wage war against Malawi if the issue “reaches the war stage.”

    The statement has ignited fear among Malawians living in the border districts of Chitipa and Karonga.

    Malawi’s Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Uladi Mussa told a local radio Zodiak Broadcasting Station that Malawians have nothing to fear as discussions are underway to resolve the issue.  

    “I would like to assure people in Chitipa and Karonga as well as all Malawians in this country, that issues of boundaries between Malawi and Tanzania are amicably being resolved. They are at discussion level. So they should not be living in fear at all. Legally Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi government,” said the minister.

    But he maintains that the whole lake belongs to Malawi and there is no way the country can halt oil and gas exploration.

    A home to about 1,000 endemic species of fish Lake Malawi is located at the junction of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. It sustains nearly 10 million people in these three countries.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora