New Malawi president stakes claim to lake

Blantyre - Malawian President Peter Mutharika has affirmed his country's claim to Lake Malawi as a feud simmers with neighbouring Tanzania over the vast territory where both sides are hoping to find oil.

"We are not going to go to war but the lake has been ours for 104 years", Mutharika told a news conference in the capital Lilongwe late on Tuesday, broadcast on public television.

"The law is very clear, I think there is very little room for negotiations on the issue of the lake, but I think we will find a way to settle this out with Tanzania", he said, the first time he has spoken out on issue since taking power on 31 May.

Based on an 1890 colonial agreement, Malawi claims ownership of the whole of Lake Malawi, which is believed to hold both oil and gas reserves.

Tanzania insists that half falls within its borders and is already eyeing it for natural gas exploration.

Mutharika said he met his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete during the US-Africa summit in Washington last week and invited him "to come and fish at the lake".

Former president Joyce Banda, defeated by Mutharika in the May poll, had often threatened to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

The contentious part is a largely undeveloped swathe of the lake in the northeastern waters near Tanzania, where late president Bingu wa Mutharika, the incumbent's elder brother, allowed a British firm to explore for oil.

The 29 600km2 mass is Africa's third-largest fresh water body and lies in the Great Lakes system stretching along the East African Rift.

It is a major tourism attraction in Malawi and straddles one third of the country's territory.

Tanzania calls it Lake Nyasa, taken from Malawi's colonial name.

Read more on: tanzania malawi water energy
Eugene Fourie 2014-08-13 03:54:53 PM
So the fighting should be commencing soon..and then it's the West's fault all over again!
Nyakanyaka Nyakanyaka 2014-08-13 04:11:43 PM
South africa must help malawi to control 95% of the lake n mine all resources in the lake. Malawians r our brothers n we cant allow dirty tanzania n their middleast influence to control the lake, never.
Anthony De Lucchi 2014-08-13 04:43:40 PM
I think the name of the lake says it all Lake Malawi
Viman Singh 2014-08-13 04:43:41 PM
African countries are so rich in minerals and resources but its people are so stupid that they would classified as mentally disabled in countries like China,Japan and Germany. Its sad that these people have to fight for resources when countries that little or no resources works so hard and is wealthy. Looks like God gave brains to those that have waste lands and made the people of rich land very stupid.
Riaan Robbeson 2014-08-13 05:33:05 PM
Anyone thought what mining would do to the freshwater reserves. I say go ahead and mine the crap out of it and watch millions of people die of thirst.
Dde Gov 2014-08-13 06:13:55 PM
Yet another African war looming.
Jerry Haldane 2014-08-13 06:23:49 PM
I see more conflict on its way
Innocent Chiyenda 2014-08-13 08:53:36 PM
Tanzania was given land which was part of Malawi like Mbeya area so that Malawi could get the whole lake. If they want part of that lake they have to give back Mbeya and the surrounding area back to Malawi but not having both.
Blessings Kayange 2015-04-13 08:45:56 AM
that z our lake. why don't claim during coloior ruler what hv they seen in our lake nw? Nd whn did thy knw that its there lake?