By Assah Mwambene
Tanzania has said it was not breaking any law by negotiating the border dispute with Malawi on Lake Nyasa, including the 1964 AU resolution on the need by African countries to respect colonial borders, saying the AU clause did not stop anyone from pursuing a justifiable dispute.
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard MembeForeign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe.
Speaking at the end of the two-day meeting organised by the African Forum of Former Heads of State and Government from the SADC, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe said claims by Malawi that Tanzania was against the resolution was totally uncalled for.
He said The 1964 AU declaration, famously referred to as Nyerere Doctrine on the Principle of State Succession, does not stop any country which is in dispute with its borders to pursue the matter as Tanzania was doing.
“At the moment we have more than 21 cases at the AU on border disputes, this signifies that countries must sit down and negotiate these issues. So the 1964 kind of declaration does not close the doors to resolve the border disputes by peaceful means.”
On the claims by Malawi that Tanzania was going against the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, quoting him as confirming that Tanzania does not hold even a drop of water in the lake Nyasa, the Minister said Tanzania’s position, is established on the principle of international law that unilateral statements made by senior political leaders are not legally binding upon the parties in respect of dispute at hand.
He said for Malawi to rely on the principle would not help them make a case since it was long established that in the border dispute like the one in lake Nyasa can not just be resolved by a unilateral statement made by political leaders.
He quoted a precedence established by the International Court of Justice in the boundary dispute between Burkina Faso and the Republic of Mali as it is reported in the ICJ reports of 1996 in para 40 is relevant in which it was ruled that no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali’s Head of State.
“Since no agreement of this kind of conclusion between the parties, the chamber finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali’s head of state on the 11th of April 1975, as a unilateral act with legal implication in regard to the present case,” The Minister quoted the report.
He said therefore, Tanzania position was that boundaries are not affirmed by mere statements by senior government officials, saying they are negotiated and agreed by way of treaties, saying negotiation was a mandatory procedure.
Mr Membe was leading the Tanzania delegation to Maputo. He was accompanied by the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human settlements Development, Prof Anna Tibaijuka and the Attorney General, Frederick Werema. Former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano is leading the African Forum of Former Heads of State and Government in the SADC, assisted by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Festus Mogae of Botswana.