Jun 23, 2018 Last Updated 2:14 PM, Jun 22, 2018
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Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe plan to form a regional bloc for tobacco producing nations in the SADC region.

Local trade and agriculture authorities have been meeting these other tobacco producing countries to enhance their regional block agenda.

This is in the hope of ensuring that they are able to speak with one strong voice, to avoiding being ripped off by international buyers.

Issues of pricing have been a shared problem in most of the tobacco producing countries, as international buyers tend to offer low prices for good leaf.

Director of Trade in the Ministry Christina Chatima discloses that the anti-smoking lobby is still their main challenge and they believe the coming together of the countries will help in voicing out concerns on the matter.

She adds that discussions on the union are progressing well and that they were to meet at the end of May.

Meanwhile Trade Spokesperson Wiskesi Mkombezi confirms the meeting has taken place.

Mkombezi however points out that the delegation that attended the talks is yet to furnish them with details of what has transpired at the meeting.

The governments of Malawi and Mozambique hope to find solutions to boundary conflicts and cross border crimes at a Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security meeting currently underway in Mangochi.

The two are among key issues on the agenda of the 11th edition of the summit which began on Sunday. 

Various corresponding sectors from the two sides are engaging to discuss and find resolutions on issues affecting their sectors.

These sectors include Police, Immigration, Prison, Agriculture, Veterinary, and Parks and Wildlife, the Malawi News Agency reports.

According to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence in Malawi, Chauncy Simwaka, a session for officials today will tackle boundary conflicts in Makanjira which followed the World Bank funded exercise aimed at retracing the boundaries between Malawi and Mozambique.

“We share common challenges in the defence and security areas. We are grappling with the irregular migration of immigrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region who mostly use our countries as a transit to other destinations,” said Simwaka.

“On a regular basis, our countries also deal with cross border crimes such as smuggling of goods and human trafficking,” he added.

He believes, owing to the cordial relations between the two countries, a resolution will quickly be found on the boundary conflicts.

The meeting is scheduled to end o Wednesday and would also review the implementation of resolutions and recommendations made during the 10th Session of a similar activity between the two sides.

Eighty-eight Malawians have been deported from Mozambique for illegal stay in that country.

They arrived at Mwanza border yesterday evening.

The immigration spokesperson at the border Pasqually Zulu has confirmed the development to Capital FM.

According to Zulu, only ten of them had valid passports, while the rest had no any travel documentation.

He disclosed that the group comprise 8 women, one minor who is under 16, and 79 men.

In June this year, 16 Malawian nationals were arrested by Mozambican police for not possessing proper travel documents.

A month before this, 300 Malawians were deported from South Africa, also for the same reasons.

Authorities in the rainbow nation reported that, around 849 Malawians had been detained for contravening immigration laws.

Every year, hundreds of Malawians get deported for illegal stay.

Social commentators believe that many that leave the country seek greener pastures mostly because the country’s economy is in a bad state.

The Mozambican government has once again firmly rejected the demands from Malawi that the Zambezi and Shire rivers be used for commercial shipping.

Malawian officials have once again raised the question of using the Shire-Zambezi waterway for Malawian trade, protesting that the Mozambican authorities are “creating difficulties”.

At a Maputo press conference on Thursday, senior Transport Ministry official Jafar Ruby retorted that the difficulties are not of Mozambique’s making, but are inherent to the Malawian project which was “neither viable nor sustainable in the short, medium and long term”.

Mozambique had believed that the matter was definitively settled when a study carried out by an international consultancy company, Hydroplan, selected by the three countries potentially involved in the Shire-Zambezi project, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, found it was not viable.

The three countries had signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2007, but after the Hydroplan study Mozambique notified the Malawian and Zambian governments that it was withdrawing from the Memorandum with effects as from June 2016.

The study had shown that the Shire-Zambezi waterway “is not commercially navigable in its natural state, and under these conditions, the general objective of the proposed project – the reduction of transport costs in terms of time and money – cannot be achieved”.

Using the river for Malawi’s trade would imply regular dredging and removal of plants, which would be extremely expensive.

The maximum amount of goods that could be moved along the two rivers would be 273,200 tonnes per year.

Dredging would cost 30 million US dollars a year and the removal of aquatic plants 50 million dollars a year. These figures, Raby said, show that “the project is not viable”.

Malawi had other, far cheaper and less time-consuming options – namely to use the Mozambican ports of Beira and Nacala, moving goods to and from the ports by rail or road.

“Transport by river would take between 10 and 12 days, compared with a day and a half from Lilongwe to Beira, and three and a half days from Blantyre to Nacala”, said Raby.

Mozambique has suggested other alternatives to Malawi.

Malawi is not currently using the Sena railway line to Beira – but it could do.

Relinking the Malawian rail system to the Sena line would involve rehabilitating 193 kilometres of track.

The river port of Nsanje, which Malawi built on the Shire, could be linked to the planned Mozambican port of Macuse, on the coast of Zambezia province (a distance of 476 kilometres), and existing roads could link Blantyre to the port of Quelimane (425 kilometres).

The Shire-Zambezi waterway project was conceived by the late Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Although it had not secured Mozambican approval, Mutharika’s government even went as far as building the port at Nsanje at a cost of twenty million US dollars.

In October 2010 it held an inauguration ceremony attended by VIPs including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The event was a huge embarrassment when the Mozambican authorities blocked fertiliser laden barges that were en route to Nsanje.

The whole scenario was bizarre as the Mozambican government had always been clear that its waterways can only be used after the correct steps have been taken, which include environment impact assessments.

At the time, the then president of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza, explained that while he understood Malawi’s desire to use the two rivers for its trade, it could only happen after the viability and environmental studies.

Those studies have now been made and they show that the project is not viable.

The waters of Lake Chiuta are being turned into a battle ground by fishermen from Malawi and Mozambique.

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