THE battle for the political control of the Midlands pitting rivals State Security minister Owen Mudha Ncube and incumbent Daniel Mackenzie Ncube has continued despite the two front-runners dropping out of the race after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s intervention.
Following Mnangagwa’s intervention, Midlands Provincial and Devolution minister Larry Mavima was imposed as an uncontested candidate for the provincial chair with both Mudha Ncube and Mackenzie Ncube pulling out of the race for the top post.
Mudha Ncube’s camp initially set the ball rolling by vigorously campaigning for the State Security boss but in October it had to change tactic after he gave the nod for his group to push for former youth league leader Edison Chakanyuka to contest Mackenzie Ncube.
The camp is now pushing for Mavima to be deputised by Chakanyuka, while also pushing for Mberengwa Zanu PF member Tsitsi Zhou and youth activist Phineous Makombe to be provincial women and youth league bosses respectively.
“Attention comrades and friends, myself as chief campaign manager Gweru district for Team Mudha (wish to announce) we do have some changes to our team. This is now official,” key Mudha Ncube campaigner Philemon Safalan told faction members a fortnight ago in their WhatsApp group dubbed “Endorsement of Mudha”.
The Mackenzie Ncube faction prefers incumbent deputy provincial chairperson Robson Nyathi to deputise Mavima. The group is also pushing for youth activist Ralph Piki and Zanu PF Kwekwe proportional representation MP Perseverance Zhou to be the youth and women’s league leaders respectively, saying their preferred choices were “the solution to their problems” (in the province).
All the candidates did not respond to questions from The NewsHawks. However, a party insider who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this publication that the Midlands was in the “spotlight” and nobody wanted to come out in the open expressing interest for provincial positions.
“You would remember that there was intense violence in the province during the district restructuring exercise that placed the Midlands in the spotlight,” he said.
“So people are nocturnally campaigning using their supporters and for now they would not want to publicly declare their interest for the positions. Tactics such as the use of campaign posters on social media platforms have become the order of the day while those being campaigned for remain silent behind the scenes.”
Provincial party spokesperson Cornelius Mupereri did not respond to questions sent to him. But according to a party source, Mudha Ncube and Mackenzie Ncube are fighting “tooth and nail” to outmanoeuvre each other in the province.
Mudha Ncube reportedly has the backing of Local Government minister July Moyo, while Mackenzie Ncube has the support of the minister of State in the President’s Office, Joram Gumbo. All protagonists claim they are loyal to Mnangagwa.