HomeLocal NewsMudha’s fall from grace

Mudha’s fall from grace

BY TINASHE MAKICHI

FAMED for his role as Zanu PF’s political enforcer for the Midlands province, former State Security minister Owen Ncube popularly known as “Mudha” had a nasty fall from the echelons of power to the streets this week.

His godfather President Emmerson Mnangagwa threw his long-time ally under the bus.

All daggers were out for Ncube as Zanu PF factional wars hit fever pitch.

His meteoric rise to power was met with stinging criticism due to his alleged association with violent artisanal miners in Kwekwe and other parts of the Midlands. His limited education was also a great disadvantage.

He was appointed firstly Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs before being assigned to the key Ministry of State Security.

It was a case of the jobs for the boys. Some political pundits viewed Ncube’s appointment as Mnangagwa’s perpetuation of ethnicism in Zanu PF and government.

It was a sure testament that meritocracy did not apply in Zanu PF.

The explosive Provincial Coordination Committee (PCC) meeting for Midlands held last week was the Waterloo moment for the former spies’ boss. Mnangagwa had to fire Ncube due to pressure from the provincial party leadership.

Prior to the Midlands Zanu PF provincial elections, there was fierce tussling as Ncube was angling for the chairmanship. He was barred by Mnangagwa, signalling the genesis of his headaches.

Mnangagwa’s long-term ally Larry Mavima was named provincial chairman uncontested.

There have been nasty clashes for power in the province for years between Local Government minister July Moyo and veteran politician Joram Gumbo who is also Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. Ncube was linked to the Moyo camp.

Commenting on Ncube’s sacking from Cabinet this week, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer and Mass Public Opinion Institute (MOPI) director Eldred Masunungure said Mnangagwa was cleansing his sins of appointing an incapable Ncube into Cabinet.

He said: “I think the President is correcting the original sin of appointing Owen “Mudha” Ncube, a decision that received widespread condemnation. I think Mudha is a superb enforcer on party matters but not fit for purpose in respect of Cabinet business hence his offence of ‘conduct that was deemed inappropriate for a minister of Government’. I also think the dismissal was meant as a strong signal to the big fish in the rival faction that the President will not hesitate to fire, no matter how close you are or how high you are in the party.

“It is meant to send a cold shiver up the spine of the rival faction that if you don’t behave properly, you will get the Mudha treatment.”

Self-exiled former Cabinet minister and political scientist Jonathan Moyo celebrated Ncube’s dismissal on microblogging Twitter, saying “Goodbye Owen “Machete” Mudha Ncube.”

Zanu PF insiders this week said the sacking of Ncube could be part of pressure from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who reportedly complained over the ex-minister’s rowdy behaviour in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

“There have been growing concerns around the behaviour of Mnangagwa’s allies in Midlands and Masvingo and the possible impact on 2023 [harmonised elections] prospects. Chiwenga last year had to intervene in a potentially explosive political disaster in Chiredzi involving one of Mnangagwa’s allies.

“What Mudha did at the recently held PCC was clear defiance of his superiors. Mnangagwa was left with no option but to sacrifice his obedient son,” the source said.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungwene said the dismissal of Ncube was yet another piece of evidence of the perilous elite discohesion in the Lacoste faction that ousted Mugabe in 2017.

The Zanu PF Lacoste faction is reportedly the one led by Mnangagwa and it emerged during the former VP Joice Mujuru days as the two battled to succeed the late former President Robert Mugabe.

“It’s very rare to have a minister heading such a strategic ministry being dismissed by a one sentence letter penned by George Charamba. It’s evidence of implosion in Zanu PF,” Saungwene said.

Another political analyst, Gibson Nyikadzino said Ncube’s dismissal can be figuratively interpreted as a cleansing ceremony, getting rid of the filth of uncouth behaviour at both government and party level.

“Indeed Ncube used violence and coercion to disturb an internal process; he crossed the lines drawn in the sand because the President has on several occasions condemned violence. Ideologically, the Nzira Dzemasoja principle has been invoked in that the masses and party cadres have a water-fish relationship that should not be disturbed.

“Also, for a long time we have been hearing that Ncube is President Mnangagwa’s right hand man, but on several occasions the President has been clear that social relations should not impede and derail the Zanu PF government,” Nyikadzino said.

“On Mudha, the President is showing he is in charge of the party, government and acting within his mandate and will not hesitate to pull the plug on anyone who wants to use their proximity to power to initiate indiscipline. The President has been alert on allegations raised on his appointees and dismissing people like Mudha, Energy Mutodi and Obadiah Moyo. He is dissociating himself from people who depart from his vision.”

“The President is instilling discipline in people. He has also fired warning shots on anyone who wants to use violence to meet political goals.”

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