IN 2012, just a year before the 2013 harmonised elections, the non-governmental organisation Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reported that Zanu PF had revived militia terror groups around the country, which political observers said were mainly created to intimidate the main opposition MDC party then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
The fear-instilling clusters were named as Chipangano in Harare, Top Six in Chinhoyi, Jochomondo in Hurungwe, Jambanja in Marambapfungwe and Al-Shaabab in Kwekwe. Al-Shaabab has nothing to do with Islamist terrorism but drew its name from a Somali terrorist group with the same title.
It sent shivers down the spines of many, not only in the Midlands province, but also the whole country. Al-Shaabab was allegedly led by “Mudha” Ncube, a long-time ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom the latter fired on Monday as State Security minister.
Ncube was also known as Mnangagwa’s brutal enforcer. The dismissal came after Ncube unleashed his machete-wielding gangsters on a Zanu PF provincial meeting last Saturday in Gweru, meant to introduce the new provincial leadership following the recently held internal polls.
At last weekend’s meeting, Ncube imposed himself to chair the meeting and imposed his allies as deputies, much to the chagrin of new provincial chairperson Larry Mavhima, whom Mnangagwa “appointed” as the unopposed candidate in what has now been termed as “guided democracy” in Zanu PF circles.
Prior to Mnangagwa’s imposition of Mavhima, Mudha Ncube had shown interest in the top provincial post, but his decision to impose himself on Mavhima was seen as a slap in Mnangagwa’s face.
Back then in 2012 and 2013, Al-Shaabab did not only terrorise opposition political party activists but also perceived rivals within the factional wars that were raging inside Zanu PF in the Midlands province.
In 2013 in particular, then senior Zanu PF member and retired army Captain David Mutinyi Juro wrote to then party commissar Webster Shamu warning that if the activities of Al-Shaabab were not contained, there was a risk the ruling party would be humiliated in that year’s elections.
But through their lawyers, Mudha Ncube and his two colleagues identified as Moses Murada and Tapiwa Muto each demanded US$10 000 from Juro for defamation of character.
“Our clients have been defamed and have suffered damages in the sum of US$10 000 each. We have therefore been instructed to demand that you deposit the money with us or make arrangements for payment of the same. If you fail to do so we shall proceed to institute court action without further notice,” the trio’s lawyers wrote to Juro then.
Zanu PF officials in the province alleged that Al-Shaabab was linked to Mnangagwa who was then Defence minister. In successive years, the militia group was to terrorise opposition activists in the province and in particular declared Kwekwe a “no-go area” for the opposition.
Reports indicate that many people lost their lives and were injured by the machete-wielding militia group, which even the police feared to arrest during that time.
Al-Shaabab bully activities even cascaded to the mining sector where they would grab gold claims from people with wanton force.
In 2017, following the “soft military coup” that saw Mnangagwa and his allies deposing the late president Robert Mugabe from power, the former (Mnangagwa) appointed Mudha Ncube as Midlands provincial Affairs minister.
During his tenure as the province’s resident minister he was known to intimidate not only party officials but even state institutions, particularly the police, as he hounded perceived enemies at will.
Sources in Zanu PF told The NewsHawks that even after he was appointed State Security minister in 2018, Mudha Ncube would always make frequent visits to his home province, where he now acted “more invincible than before” after clinching the powerful national security post.
Last year, Al-Shaabab was blamed for violent attacks on Zanu PF officials and supporters that left many wounded at party headquarters in Kwekwe during the inter-district elections.
Over the years, Mudha Ncube has denied leading Al-Shaabab, but last Saturday’s actions betrayed his unruly behaviour, as a senior politician in Zanu PF and Mnangagwa had this Monday no option but to show his State Security minister and long-time henchman the exit door.