Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tanzania-Malawi Boundary Dispute: Colonial Legacy and Poor Leadership

By Nico Minde
Tanzania and Malawi are embroiled in a boundary issue over Lake Nyasa as it is widely known in Tanzania or Lake Malawi as it is widely referred in Malawi. Many have called for an amicable settlement of this boundary issue so as to avoid a boundary conflict, an aspect that has caused devastating consequences in Africa. In the past five decades of Africa's independence, boundary problems and demarcation-related issues in Africa have caused major wars. As one scholar puts it, borders are imagined lines that are rarely demarcated on the ground, demonstrating their nature as artificial, historical construction and/or a political invention. There have been many controversies and arguments concerning the arbitrary nature of African boundaries.

Tanzania-Malawi boundary dispute over Lake Nyasa
The Malawi-Tanzania border conflict with the lake at the focus is not a recent dispute as many might think. Since Malawi became independent in 1964, her diplomatic relations with Tanzania have been almost permanently strained. The causes of this has been summed up into three factors. One is the contrasting attitudes and policies towards the white minority regime of South Africa (Apartheid South Africa). Secondly is Malawi's first President Banda's suspicion that Tanzania was aiding and abetting the attempts by certain Malawi exiles to subvert his regime and lastly is on the question of Lake Nyasa (Malawi). The other is on the irridentism claims by Banda. 

The dispute over the Lake is largely due to two major factors. One is on the colonial heritage largesse. The second is Malawi's constant irridentism agenda by President Kamuzu Banda. Irridentism is any position that advocates for an annexation of a territory administered by a another state on grounds of shared historical ties, ethnicity ties, either through factual or alleged claims. From the onset, Tanzania agreed that the Lake's boundaries belonged exclusively to Malawi as per the Anglo-German Treaty of Peace Agreement after the First World War.  But a reexamination of the various treaties, the boundary location was in fact uncertain. This is well captured in the earlier explanation that boundaries are indeed imagined. Various documents point to the fact that at one point the middle point of the lake was placed as the demarcation area. Whereas others point that the whole of the lake belonged to Malawi. This uncertainty cannot be ruled out given the manner in which colonial settlements were reached between the European powers in Africa and particularly Britain's administration of the two territories concerned. This is largely due to the inheritance of Tanganyika by Britain after the defeat of Germany in the First World War. Tanganyika became a British protectorate until it gained independence in 1961. 

Tanganyika under Nyerere took up the doctrine of  uti possidetis  meaning that a territory and other property remains with its possessor at the end of a conflict, unless otherwise provided for by a treaty. Tanzania made this proposal to the Organization of African Unity in Cairo in 1964. This led to the foundation of most African states foreign policy of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect for national independence. 

The irredentism claims by Banda were atrocious and highly provocative. It went to the extent of him pointing towards Tanzania in one of Malawi Congress Party rally saying 'that is my land over there, Tukya (Tukuyu), Njombe, and Songea, all of them must be given back.' Nyerere went on and labeled the man as 'insane'. On hearing this Banda reacted angrily by saying that 'everyone knew Nyerere as a coward and a communist inspired jellyfish'. The reaction was highly uncalled for especially for a man who had little democratic ideals, and an outright  symphasizer of Apartheid South Africa. This further inflamed the outstanding and unresolved boundary issue. 

The recent oil exploration attempts by Malawi on the lake have rekindled the boundary debate. It comes at a time when Joyce Banda replaced the late wa Mutharika as the head of state of Malawi. Joyce Banda just like Kamuzu Banda (coincidentally they share names), has shown little leadership in the matter. Madam Banda from her few days in office is seen as a Western protege who works to please the Western donors unlike her predecessor who worked hard to make Malawi an independent and self reliant state in terms of food security. The oil explorations have brought back the boundary question.

Tanzanian fishermen and local communities in south-west Tanzania dependent on this lake. Their livelihoods are placed on the lake. Tanzania's position is to protect her people at all times. The government led by the foreign minister Bernard Membe have categorically said that Tanzania has a claim to the lake. Malawi should understand the historical complexities of colonial legacy and examine the aspect the boundary cordially. Tanzania should as well approach it in the same membrane. A deeper examination of the historicity of the dispute should be given emphasis and amicable resolution should be considered.               

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Fastjet low cost airline launch in Tanzania is a positive step for economic prosperity

Wednesday 27 November, 2012: Fastjet, the first low-cost airline for Africa has started operations in Tanzania. Air travel in Africa is one of the most expensive in the world. The launch of local flights in Tanzania by Fastjet  will prove to be a positive economic step for various national sectors in Tanzania. Of greater boost shall be the tourism sector in. Tourism is a crucial revenue earner for the Tanzanian government. For a country that boasts of the highest mountain in Africa, the Mount Kilimanjaro, great national parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Sealous, and many other, Tanzania will greatly benefit from Fastjet. This is because local tourism will be rejuvenated and act as a catalyst for domestic growth. With the Zanzibar route to be introduced, this will further boost internal tourism. 

Of greater challenge shall be the government's will to improve infrastructure such as revamping and modernizing local airports and airstrips. The government needs to work through the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Infrastructure and other departments to see airstrips are modernized and given an uplift to cater for the increased number of air users. This shall be the greatest challenge faced by the government. Despite this being a challenge, it could act as stimuli for infrastructure improvement. In turn, the economy will be vibrant through increased transport, tourism promotion, increased trade and increased regional (provincial) interconnectedness. The challenge should act as a possibility and a chance for a re-examination of the government's commitment to economic prosperity.  

Tanzania being a safe haven and a stable emerging democracy coupled with hospitable and peace loving people can become a destination of choice. The impact of such a move by Fastjet is increased commerce, increased economic vibrancy in both the service and commodity markets, increased finance mobility in the banking sectors, the SMEs, insurance etc. The road to modern economic management and success starts with such initiative.

It is our time Tanzania. God bless Tanzania.       

Constitutional Review in Tanzania: Tanzanians urged to be part of the process

Wednesday 27, 2012: Tanzania is in the process of drafting a new constitution. The Constitutional Review team under the chairmanship of retired judge Joseph Warioba. The review team has been conducting regional meetings to seek the opinions of Tanzanians on what they would like the new constitution to provide. This is in deed a crucial moment of Tanzania's history. This process marks an important phase in collecting the views and opinions of all Tanzanians regarding the new constitution. The process is guided by Chapter 83 of the  Constitutional Review Law. 

Of critical importance is a clear understanding of the 1977 Constitution. One cannot make any meaningful contributions without a clear and detailed analysis of the current constitution. It is thus imperative for all Tanzanians of sound judgement to read the 1977 law so as to make a reason for basing your opinion. Most of the time, the politicians have used the review process as a campaign platform without duly recognizing the importance of the voice of the ordinary man. 

Important information
  • Every Tanzanian with Tanzanian nationality is eligible to be part of the review process.
  • Any Tanzanian who has given up his nationality is not allowed to participate in this process, doing this will amount to a criminal offense.
  • The review team will receive opinions in any of the following means:
    • Through its website:
    • Through Email:
    • Tel: +255-22-2133442 and +255-224-2230769  
    • Post: P.O Box  1681 DSM or P.O Box 2775 Zanzibar
    • Through regional meetings
Tanzanian are thus urged to take part in this process for the betterment of our future.

God Bless Tanzania


Monday, 26 November 2012

Why Iran should get the bomb: A review of Waltz's perspective

Monday, 27 November, 2012: The acclaimed neo-realist theorist Kenneth Waltz is of the view that Iran should go nuclear. He believes that a nuclear Iran will bring nuclear stability in the Middle East region. There have been historical enmity and callous relationship between Iran and the US and her ally Israel. The tensions have been recently been exacerbated by Iran’s nuclear ambition. The West has responded to these attempts by slapping Tehran with numerous sanctions and trade embargos on her goods.

The implications of Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been written and widely argued on how dangerous such a move will be. Most US, European and Israel commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the standoff on uranium enrichment in Iran. A number of avenues have been postulated on how to deal with the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. As noted earlier, sanctions have been used to punish Iran but they have relentlessly pursued the desire for nuclear technology.  Analysts have seen this measure as futile since Iran is determined to pursue her security agenda by possessing nuclear technology, just like the other world super powers. By the look of things, Iran is not willing to drop its nuclear ambition. 

The implications of such a move can also be interpreted with a positive touch. Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly, which has endured for close to five decades now, has long fueled instability in the region. Regional balance of power in the Middle East can be stabilized with a nuclear Iran. Kenneth Waltz has argued that the fear of a reprisal attack on Israel by Iran is grossly exaggerated. This has completely distorted the positives of such a move by Iran. There have been misjudged arguments that the Ayatollahs and whole Iranian system is irrational and will hit Israel after acquiring a bomb. On the contrary, Iran as a state wants to compete with other developed nations around the world. History has shown us that when countries acquire nuclear arsenal, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware of the dangers posed therewith. 

In 1991, the historical rivals of India and Pakistan signed a treaty agreeing not to target each other nuclear facilities. The two, by virtue of such an agreement respect each other and brought about balance of power in the region. It’s for this reason that Waltz argues that a nuclear Iran will bring about more stability in the Middle East region. A nuclear Iran will bring stability and possibly mend relations with Israel. Who knows?