President Mutharika Of Malawi To Wed Ex-Minister

By Christiana Asante-Mid-Week Newspaper
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The president of Malawi, Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, and his former tourism minister, Callista Chapola Chimbombo, are set to become husband and wife in the coming months. A statement released on January 20 by the State House, which is based in the administrative capital Lilongwe, finally made the announcement official, following weeks of intense speculations about the nature of the relationship between the President and the former cabinet minister.

“It has pleased His Excellency the State President Ngwazi Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika to announce his engagement to marry Miss Callista Chapola-Chimombo, a high ranking member of the National Governing Council of the (ruling Democratic Progressive Party) DPP,” the brief statement reads, according to AfriqueJet.

Signed by the newly appointed State House Press Officer, Mr Albert Mungomo, the communiqué also mentions that the future spouses already have plans for Valentine's Day.

The Malawian president and his fiancée are in fact expected to hold their traditional custom engagement ceremony on February 14, after which they will formally unite on Labour Day, to wit on 1 May 2010.

Both “devout Catholics,” the Malawian State leader together with his wife-to-be will hold their wedding in a Roman Catholic Church, the communication states.

Ms Callista Chapola Chimbombo has for the present dismissed presumptions that she is engaged in any unlawful relationship with President Mutharika. She told a local newspaper lately that there was currently “nothing” between her and the Malawian leader.

A former legislator and Member of Parliament for the governing DPP, Ms Chapola Chimbombo was appointed to serve in Mr Bingu wa Mutharika's first cabinet as a State Minister of Tourism and Wildlife between 2004 and 2009. She has of late confirmed her nomination to the rank of High Commissioner to Zimbabwe.

According to the announcement from the State House, the incoming First Lady and her bridegroom experienced a tragedy some years back as both politicians have had to go through the painful loss of their respective life partners.

The 76-year-old parent of four grown-up children, Mr Mutharika, became a widower after the decease of his first Zimbabwean wife, Ethel, who battled with cancer until she passed away on 28 May 2007. The two had been married for over thirty years, some bloggers affirmed.

Ms Callista Chimbombo, who is believed to be in her late 40s (although the statement does not disclose her exact age), also lost her first husband with whom she bore her son Brian.

The Malawian media reported last month that the new couple started attracting extra attention in December last year during the nuptial ceremony of Tonderai Mubaira – who hails from Zimbabwe – and Duwa Mutharika, the youngest daughter of the President.

The presidential couple had then appeared side by side at Sanjika Palace in the commercial capital Blantyre and since then, they have been spotted together at recent public functions, a decision which Mr Richard Chirombo, a writer, says gave additional hints on the pending declaration of the happy message. “Chimombo has since mid-December 2009 been seen sitting next to Mutharika [on his right side], a position reserved for high government officials and trusted pals,” Mr Chirombo in Malawi remarked.

A large number of Malawians have welcomed the news of the union with glee. Interestingly, AfriqueJet reports that “it had been the main subject of text and e-mail messages since the State broadcasters – the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Television Malawi (TVM) – went on air with it in their main news bulletins at 6 pm Central African Time (1600 hours GMT).”

The forthcoming marriage of President Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika to Ms Chimombo will be the country's second State wedding after that of Bakili Muluzi in 1999.

By Christiana Asante

For: Mid-Week Newspaper