Former South African President Thabo Mbeki and former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano will on Sunday meet Malawi President Joyce Banda over the Malawi-Tanzania Lake dispute, Malawi officials said.
Malawi, which sits to the west of Africa’s third-largest lake, claims the entire northern half of the lake while Tanzania, to the east, says it owns half of the northern area. The southern half is shared between Malawi and Mozambique
The 50-year-old dispute reignited in 2011 when Malawi awarded exploration licenses to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in the disputed northern area.
“Accompanying Chissano will be President Thabo Mbeki. I can also
confirm that the two are coming to Malawi to hold discussions with President Dr Joyce Banda on the Malawi-Tanzania Lake Malawi border issue,” said President press secretary Steve Nhlane.
East Africa has become hot property for the oil industry since huge gas finds off the shores of Tanzania and Mozambique and oil strikes in Uganda and Kenya. Rich hydrocarbon deposits are believed to lie below Lake Malawi.
Malawi pulled out of talks in October last year after it accused its neighbor of intimidating Malawi fishermen, an accusation denied by the Tanzanian government.
In June this year, Malawi again protested Tanzania’s decision to buy six vessels to be deployed on the lake. But Tanzania clarified saying that the vessels were not going to be deployed on the disputed parts of the lake.
Chissano is the chief mediator in the dispute in a team comprising three former Heads of State of Southern Africa Development Corporation (SADC) countries which includes former President of Botswana Festus Mogae.
Chissano was mandated to find a lasting solution to the protracted dispute which had worsened in recent months as chairman of the forum of former Heads of State of SADC.
On Thursday last week President Banda met prominent opposition leaders in the country to brief them on the progress of the mediation
Last month SADC announced that it has released a roadmap for the
mediation process which was presented to the concerned ministers of the two countries.