President Joyce Banda has said that Malawi was giving up on mediation efforts and would take to the courts to
settle a long dormant border dispute with Tanzania which has been re-activated by prospects of an oil find.

"Our view is that we should eventually go to court. We should not waste time on this (mediation)," Banda told reporters in Lilongwe on Monday after returning from visits to the US and Britain.

She said the mediation bid left to Mozambique's ex-president Joachim Chissano in his capacity as head of a forum of retired leaders from the regional bloc SADC, was "compromised because information submitted by Malawi was leaked to Tanzania".

She accused the executive secretary of the forum, John Tesha, a Tanzanian national, for leaking some vital information to his home country.

"After surrendering our documents, we were told that they were leaked to Tanzania before the Tanzanians surrendered theirs," Banda said.

"We feel everything is compromised," she said. In December Banda said the dispute had dragged for too long and she was considering taking it to the International Court of Justice for arbitration.

At stake is a largely undeveloped swathe of the lake where Malawi has awarded a licence to British firm Surestream to explore for oil in the north-eastern waters near Tanzania.

Malawi claims ownership of the entire lake under an 1890 agreement, while Tanzania disputes this validity, insisting part of the lake falls within its borders. Talks in the past ended in a deadlock.