ALPHA Media Holdings (AMH) publisher Trevor Ncube has exposed his duplicity and insincerity after he falsely projected himself as a constructive critic of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa despite having served as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adviser and co-owns his media empire alongside the first citizen’s son-in-law.
As turmoil engulfs the country’s main opposition party after it emerged as a force to reckon with during the past general elections on a shoe-string budget and no political structures, Ncube has waded into the drama, blaming Chamisa for being complicit.
After losing a legal wrangle to take control of the Movement of Democratic Change and the party’s assets, Chamisa last year introduced an alternative, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change and contested in by-elections triggered by Douglas Mwonzora’s recall of lawmakers aligned to the youthful leader.
Unlike Mwonzora who had funding from Treasury, Chamisa rode on his political capital to win the majority of the seats that had become vacant during the by-elections.
This week, Ncube sparked fresh controversy when he accused Chamisa of resisting well-meaning advice from those who would want to see his party succeed.
Yet Ncube’s disdain for Chamisa, a politician he views as immature, has been in the public domain.
AMH, co-owned by Mnangagwa’s son-inlaw Gerald Mlotshwa, group CEO Kennias Mafukidze and Ncube, runs three newspapers, Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and NewsDay.
The group also has an online television and radio station called Heart & Soul. Chamisa became leader of the MDC-T after the death of its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2018. He then became the MDA-Alliance presidential election candidate for the July 2018 polls.
At that time, Ncube, previously a Zapu, MDC and Mavambo supporter, had abandoned his Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA) project led by Nkosana Moyo to join Mnangagwa’s coup gravy train.
APA was formed in June 2017. Prior to that, Ncube had tried to recruit Chamisa to join APA in August 2016 as consultations were underway.
Ncube abandoned APA in November 2017 during the coup without even officially resigning from his party.
He then went to serve Mnangagwa’s Presidential Advisory Council as the coup project’s official mouthpiece.
However, Ncube later resigned out of frustration without having changed anything. He neither made a mark nor obtained the radio and television licences he craved.
The situation had become acrimonious after he had attacked business mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei soon after having dinner with him.
Even though Ncube left Mnangagwa’s coup gravy train, he remains a Mnangagwa ally and still works with his son-in-law. He is therefore tying himself in knots when he complains that Chamisa is not accepting his advice and does not listen.
“Why should Chamisa listen to his political rival’s adviser for advice?” a source questioned.
Ncube has been consistently lambasting Chamisa, calling him all sorts of names, going as far as insinuating he is a tribalist and dictator, but the CCC leader typically does not reply. Ncube co-owns AMH, publisher of NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and online broadcasting platform Heart & Soul.
NewsDay and Heart & Soul are names of Ncube’s media platforms derived from BBC programmes.
The NewsHawks gathered that although he postures as a neutral political observer who only wants to fix Zimbabwe’s problems, Ncube — who behaves as if he has a God-ordained mission to do that — is actually a partisan political player operating in the dark shadows and an opportunist who hops from one party to another.
He has been all over the place politically — from Zapu to MDC, then Mavambo/Kusile/ Dawn, Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA) and most recently Zanu PF by association.
He is also a longtime Mnangagwa ally.
Ncube’s politics is not based on discernible ideological and policy ideation, values and principles, but opportunism and self-interest. He is also not principled.
For instance, Ncube just went AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) in 2017 when he was APA chair, only to emerge as Mnangagwa’s adviser after the November 2017 coup without even officially resigning from his party.
Ncube joined Mnangagwa’s coup project and became its media mouthpiece in a bid to revive his faltering publishing business interests after losing control of the Mail & Guardian in South Africa.
His prime intention in hobnobbing with Mnagagwa was to acquire radio and television licences to expand his media interests, while repaying a US$2 million debt to the Media Development Investment Fund, an American fund which provides debt and equity finance for independent media in countries where access to reliable news and information is under threat.
APA had been formed in June 2017, with prominent business executive and academic Nkosana Moyo as the leader. Ncube’s jumping ship and joining the coup gravy train led to APA leader Moyo to tellingly say that he had sadly come to realise that some Zimbabweans are not fighting to change the system but to be part of it.
Ncube keeps on complaining about Chamisa not taking his advice, yet he was Mnangagwa’s adviser. Ncube says Chamisa does not listen and repeatedly keeps on referring to a photo he took with him seven years ago as evidence of their meetings to discuss local political issues.
By so doing he justifies his conclusion and attacks on the CCC leader on the basis of one interaction seven years ago he keeps spinning to appear as if he meets and talks to Chamisa every day.
After Ncube again continued with his diatribe against the opposition leader during a talk show hosted by his employee online, a Chamisa adviser told The NewsHawks: “We have seen the video and remarks by Mr Trevor Ncube in which he attacks our leader Nelson Chamisa and says all sorts of things about him. We have no problem with Ncube or anyone for that matter legitimately criticising Chamisa as a leader, a hugely popular one at that. “Ncube has a constitutional and legitimate right to criticise him and other political leaders. That’s what should happen in a democracy.
“However, Ncube must stop crudely misrepresenting and manipulating one meeting he had with Chamisa seven years ago for cheap political capital, publicity and relevance.
“In fact, he must stop lying about it. We have kept quiet throughout his lies and drama for far too long. I think we now need to set the record straight in the public interest and stop this charade.
“The facts are very clear on this issue. Ncube invited Chamisa to his office in Graniteside, Harare, where AMH operates from on 5 August 2016 to discuss local political issues, including the formation of APA. Ncube wanted Chamisa to be part of that process led by Nkosana Moyo. At that meeting Ncube told Chamisa that he had held many consultative meetings in Zimbabwe and South Africa on the APA project, which he claimed was supported by telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa and many other prominent businesspeople, some of whom ended up with him as Mnangagwa’s advisers.”
At the time, Chamisa had just been appointed one of the three vice-presidents of the MDC-T by the late Morgan Tsvangirai the month before, that is in July 2016. Effectively, he was not the leader of the MDC-T at that time and did not even know one day he will lead the party.
“In that meeting, Chamisa told Ncube upfront that while he appreciated the invitation to join APA, he was not able to do so because he wanted to help Tsvangirai rejuvenate the MDC-T post the 2013 elections and prepare for the 2018 elections.
“So Chamisa politely declined Ncube’s offer to join APA. The idea was to use Chamisa’s growing social base to back Moyo as APA leader in his presidential election bid in 2018.
“The meeting, which ran for close to two hours from around 9am to just before 11am (that photo was taken at that time), ended on a somewhat sour note with fake smiles because Chamisa had rejected the APA invitation, saying he is a loyal MDC-T member and one of the leaders. Interestingly, it ended with a prayer,” said the source.
The NewsHawks learnt that Ncube gave Chamisa a book co-authored by Harvard Business School professor Bill George and Peter Sims titled True North, which is about leadership as part of his motive to lure the vibrant and youthful MDC-T vice-president.
“Since then, Ncube has not spoken to Chamisa, not even once, except on 14 July 2021 when he sent a condolence message to him after a family bereavement. So Ncube is lying that he has engaged Chamisa on political issues and he doesn’t listen. There is no such thing; it’s just a needless malicious campaign and posturing.
“Chamisa talks to many people and takes ideas and proposals from them. He implements what is strategic and practical for the CCC, given political conditions and circumstances.
“The claim that Chamisa doesn’t listen, does not have structures, works alone and is a dictator is nonsense. He is a democratic leader who believes change can only be secured through democratic elections. Some may not like his style, but that is normal in politics,” said the source.
The source added that there is a difference between style, strategy and substance.
“In any case, why should Chamisa listen to advice coming from his rival’s advisers? Ncube is a known Mnangagwa ally and now he works with his son-in-law at his media business. So why on earth would Chamisa listen to advice from that sort of a dishonest person who even lies about a meeting held seven years ago in a totally different setting, time and space? That’s ridiculous.
“Let’s learn to discuss ideas, not people and events; this noisy mediocrity which pervades our polity masquerading as insightful leading lights of our politics is now part of the problem rather than the solution. He has his own system and team that he works with. It’s ridiculous to suggest that Chamisa won 44% of the vote going by official results, which we reject as a fraud, and all those seats in Parliament alone,” another source said.
“How is that possible really? Is he superhuman? He works with others, but it is also true that other people are not happy. That’s what happens in politics. He is also fully aware of critical issues that he needs to address urgently, that is the limitations and weaknesses from a political, structural, organisational and strategic point of view.
“Chamisa welcomes ideas and criticism from well-meaning people, not some malicious malcontents and bullies. He is a bona fide opposition leader who genuinely wants a solution to the country’s problems and he is open to working with other people who seriously want to resolve national issues, not noisemakers and impostors.
“It’s time we challenge these false and negative narratives by people who are more opposed to the opposition than the ruling party. Chamisa is an opposition leader trying to help find a solution to our country’s problems, he is not the leader of the country and the problem.
“He is the alternative to a failed leadership and its policies that have ruined the country with devastating consequences for all, especially the poor and vulnerable. He may have his own weaknesses, like all of us, but he is the best alternative at the moment. Anything else is just mere wishful thinking and drama.”