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Booted out CIO minister Ncube overplayed his hand

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BY the time fired State Security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube was removed from office, he had become a Frankenstein monster for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as he was now causing havoc in his home province.

NYASHA CHINGONO

Ncube, a close ally of Mnangagwa, was fired for a cocktail of reasons, including hooliganism, factionalism and destabilising Zanu PF, fear of losing elections, undermining his grip on power and deadly battles over gold mines in Kwekwe.

Mudha is generally seen as the “commander” of a Kwekwe-based violent group known as AlShaabab, that is notorious for intimidation and brutality in local politics and gold mining affairs in the city and its surrounding areas.

Al-Shaabab is blamed for violent attacks and killings there, amid allegations that the group was responsible for many murders in gold-rich Kwekwe.

 Al-Shaabab, named after the Somali Islamist extremist group, is also behind a reign of terror in the Midlands, with elements often used to mete out violence on opposition supporters.

 But during the longstanding battle for the Zanu PF Midlands chairperson’s position, the group has also been used to fight factional battles between Mudha and another Mnangagwa ally, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube.

When Mnangagwa appointed “Mudha” Ncube, there was public uproar, with critics saying he was not ministerial material given his background of hooliganism, violence and brutality in Kwekwe. Mnangagwa, however, did not heed the public concerns.

 In March 2020, the United States designated Zimbabwe’s former Presidential Guard commander Anselem Sanyatwe, now an ambassador, and “Mudha” Ncube for their “role in human rights abuses related to political repression in Zimbabwe”.

This further vindicated critics who had questioned his appointment. A Zanu PF insider said “Mudha” Ncube had remained “the hooligan that he has always been” as minister. He still embraced gangsterism, violence and brutality; thuggery to settle issues.

Only last weekend he bused a group of his Al-Shaabab gang armed with machetes to a Zanu PF Gweru meeting.

Sources say Ncube ran the show like a “warlord”, issuing instructions, threats and orders about how provincial structures should be like after the recent elections.

 Insiders add that Ncube wanted to control the structures in his own favour, not helping Mnangagwa to consolidate power, while others allege that he was working with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s faction.

 “The dramatic events at the Zanu PF provincial meeting at the party’s convention centre, The Winery, showed beyond reasonable doubt that Mudha had become a warlord, ruling the province by violence and fear. He brought thugs with machetes and illegally ran the meeting like a thug.

“He behaved like a mafia boss and issued orders and threats as he sought to influence structures after the provincial elections, not to help Mnangagwa but to control the region for his own good. Mnangagwa’s Midlands loyalists pushed for his removal. He had become a Frankenstein monster.

“Mudha is a creature of violent Zanu PF politics Mnangagwa presided over in the Midlands and all over the country. Now, typically, he was now threatening to ruin his creator. Zanu PF is in tatters in the Midlands, and of course all over the country, but in that region Mudha created havoc,” added the source.

 “Mnangagwa’s allies had been repeatedly warning him Mudha was destabilising the party and undermining him. He took a long to act because this was his key right-hand man for a long time, but then he had morphed into a Frankenstein. His actions risked defeat for Mnangagwa in 2023.”

Mnangagwa’s allies led by Midlands provincial chairperson Larry Mavima feared Mudha was now undermining Mnangagwa to vengefully help his deputy and rival Chiwenga after he was blocked from becoming party provincial chair.

His actions damaged Mnangagwa, but helped Chiwenga. Mnangagwa blocked Ncube from becoming Midlands chairperson as he battled former chair Daniel McKenzie Ncube. Mavima, who has no political capital, became the compromise chair.

This enraged Mudha and he became destructive as he lashed out in all directions, using fear and violence, insiders say.

While Mudha continued to defy Mnangagwa, he was also at war with First Lady Auxillia in Kwekwe.

Auxillia, who was backing local gold magnate Kandross Mugabe for the Kwekwe central seat, was involved in direct confrontation with losing 2018 parliamentary candidate Energy Ncube, nephew of Mudha, during the primaries in 2020.

In October 2020, Zanu PF primary polls to choose a Kwekwe Central parliamentary candidate for a by-election turned bloody following intense clashes between rival groups at Kwekwe district offices.

Police had to fire warning shots after being called to contain the situation which had spiralled out of control as factions bludgeoned each other over the voters’ roll, with Mudha accused of being among the chief instigators of the violence.

 In a leaked voice recording ,party supporters in the Midlands talk about Mudha’s violent machinations in the province, describing how youths were hired to bruitalise rival factions.

In the audio, recorded after a provincial meeting in Gweru, party supporters say Mudha had become a de facto leader in the Midlands. “Mudha is doing what he wants here. He would shut down anyone who would stand up to speak during the meeting. Some politburo members had to ask him for permission to speak.”

 “The power that Mnangagwa has given Mudha is too much,” an unidentified supporter said.

Observers say Mudha overestimated his importance in Mnangagwa’s camp, but it remains to be seen whether Mnangagwa will discard his blue eyed boy forever or he will resurface in another portfolio.

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