Former National Assembly Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda is back in the fold of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after taking a back seat in active politics since he was defeated by President Peter Mutharika at the first ever party convention in April 2013.
Chimunthu lost to Mutharika 73 to 1 266 votes but said despite facing “intimidation” and other setbacks, he contested for the party presidency to “see democracy work both inside and outside the party.”
After the convention in 2013, Chimunthu Banda went into political hibernation but now the party has reached out to him and is back in the frontline politics.
Chimunthu, a generally respected figure, has been seen in public recently attending Mutharika’s events.
“Viewed as a clean and sober, he hails from Central Region. Many think his appearance a signal that he may become running mate for Mutharika in the next elections, with the aim of countering the MCP’s Reverend Lazarus Chakwera, who is currently dominate in the Central Region,” Africa Confidential reports on the matter.
The influential governance publication reported that DPP has “officially dumped” Vice President Saulos Chilima, citing President’s spin doctor Bright Molande openly telling colleagues that Chilima was “hired for consultancy and paid as Vice-President for five years.”
Chilima, described by Africa Confidential as “a popular figure”, has seen his office budget cut and Public Service Reform removed from his portfolio and returned to Mutharika’s office where a close ally Seodi White is in-charge.
“DPP officials accuse Chilima of having ambitions to take over from Mutharika, a position they expect a Lhomwe to fill,” reports Africa Confidential.
Until Chimunthu re-appeared on the scene, the conventional wisdom was that Mutharika would pair with United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi who is Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development in the Mutharika 20-member cabinet, as his running mate in the 2019 polls.
Now, however, Muluzi has been addressing UDF political rallies touting to make the party which ruled Malawu from 1994 to 2005 great again but maintains his agenda for ‘Malawi First’ with his slogan ’ Dzuka Malawi, Dzuka.’
During the DPP indaba in 2013 Chimunthu Banda was attacked by a Blue Revolution, a four-page publication distributed to all delegates at the start of the convention, blamed the former Speaker for “indecisiveness”, alleging that he was nowhere near the party at the time people were deserting it.
“He hid in the sanctuary of the neutrality of the Speaker Office yet his predecessors, honourables Louis Chimango, Sam Mpasu and the late Rodwell Munyenyembe used to identify themselves with their parties outside Parliament…,” the publication said.
DPP spokesman Francis Kasaila said he could not comment on the issue of running mate, saying it was a prerogative of a presidential candidate to choose a preferred deputy.
Kasaila said the re-appearing of Chimunthu Banda indicates that DPP remains popular and still attracting political gurus.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :