The United Democratic Front (UDF) Presidential running mate Frank Mwenifumbo stunned the jam-packed audience that attended the final presidential running mate debate organized by Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) at Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu on Tuesday when he told the nation that Malawi should consider allowing Tanzania to keep part of Lake Malawi to avert a possible war between the two countries.
Said Mwenifumbo: “If it’s about resources we will exploit them mutually as we are doing through the Songwe River Basin Project, the piece of land that is under dispute, is negligible, because if we continue with confrontation, the end result is war.
“We are one people, the issue is about resources, let’s see how we can best exploit these resources for the benefit of all people [Tanzanians and Malawians]. My own opinion is if we are going to have confrontation, we can have war and it’s my people [those who live along the contested Area] who can suffer. Let’s see how best we can exploit this resource together like North Korea and South Korea.”
But the United Transformation Movement (UTM) Presidential Running Mate Dr Michael Usi said that Malawi should keep the whole Lake for itself by engaging in the process of contact and dialogue with Tanzania to persuade the Tanzanian Government to leave the Lake to Malawi.
“We will continue with the negotiations as UTM. Contact and dialogue are always the best. Tanzania and Malawi are neighbours and we need each other, therefore, we need to bring in other people to discuss this issue and it must be discussed amicably. Lake Malawi, the whole of Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi,” said Usi.
However, Mohammad Sidik said that an MCP-led government will keep the Lake Malawi for Malawi and not engage in any negotiations on the ownership of Lake with neighbouring Tanzania.
“Lake Malawi in all sense belongs to Malawi, without doubt and we as Malawi Congress Party will fight for our rights, we will stick to it so that Lake Malawi will continue to belong to us forever. Whoever wants to hear about it, we will go everywhere, if we are called to defend it, we will go and defend it,” said Mia.
Apart from the Lake wrangle, panellists also tackled climate change, energy, population and governance questions. A governance journalist who attended the debate, Wanangwa Tembo, hailed Zodiak for organizing the prestigious debate in Mzuzu.
“Firstly, we thank Zodiak for taking the debate to the North. It was the first of its kind here in the Northern side of the Country. All in all, it was a lively debate that brought a lot of excitement amongst the patrons. The security was tight and there was good patronage,” Tembo said.
The debate in Mzuzu was the last of three debates organized by ZBS and its partners to give running mates from the different political parties a platform to sell their ideologies to lure more votes in the 21 May 2019 Tripartite Elections. The three panellists; Michael Usi, Mohammad Sidik Mia and Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo have successfully taken part in all three debates in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.