Former ruling secretary general Henry Chimunthu Banda, one of the powerful figures in the late Bingu wa Mutharika administration is Thursday rejoining his former party amid heightened speculation that he will be President Peter Mutharika’s running mate in the 2019 polls.
An announcement from the Office of the President and Cabinet says Mutharika will formally welcome Chimunthu Banda at a political rally in Nkhotakota, the home district of Chimunthu Banda.
DPP supporters are cheering that Chimunthu Banda is now earmarked for the running mate position, an indication that they did not approve the Peter Mutharika hand-picking of Atupele Muluzi.
Muluzi and his United Democratic Front (UDF) are in political alliance with the DPP in parliament, a strange arrangement as Muluzi is the only Cabinet minister in Mutharika’s 20-member cabinet.
Chimunthu Banda, who was expected to challenge Grazider Jeffrey at the DPP convention last month on the position of secretary general, did not file his nomination papers, heightening speculation that a deal had been done that he should be appointed running mate.
He went into self-political exile soon after losing the DPP presidential elections in 2013, concentrating on his businesses and farming before he started popping up at government and DPP political functions last year.
Chimunthu Banda is an experienced politician and level headed who started as a deputy minister in the Bakili Muluzi government then rose to a powerful minister in the Bingu administration and rose to be Speaker of the National Assembly.