Ncube, widely seen as Mnangagwa’s enforcer in the Midlands, remains close to the President despite being dropped from cabinet for his unbecoming behaviour which was embarrassing even his staunch supporters.
The former minister, who is a senior party official in the province, moves around in a Land Rover Defender and an escort car, a Toyota Hilux. His security aides occupy both cars.
This arrangement is similar to that of former vice-president Kembo Mohadi, who resigned in shame in March last year after a sex scandal. Mohadi however retained his position as Zanu-PF vice-president and deputy secretary.
Mohadi is still enjoying state security protection and perks at taxpayers’ expense even though, like Ncube, he is no longer holding public office. Keeping Zanu-PF senior officials on the state payroll when they are no longer in public office constitutes abuse of state resources and smacks of patronage and cronyism, which Zanu-PF thrives on.
Just this week, Ncube was seen enjoying his lunch in Newlands, Harare, in the company of business and security people, with his state security aides around. By the time Ncube was removed from office, he had become a Frankenstein monster for Mnangagwa, as he was now accused of fomenting unrest in his home province.
Ncube was fired for a cocktail of reasons, including alleged hooliganism, factionalism and destabilising Zanu-PF, fear of losing elections, undermining his grip on power and deadly battles over gold mines in Kwekwe.
Ncube is widely considered the “commander” of a Kwekwe-based violent group known as AlShabaab, that is notorious for intimidation and brutality in local politics and gold-mining affairs in the city and its surrounding areas.
Al-Shabaab is blamed for violent attacks and killings, amid allegations that the group was responsible for many murders in gold-rich Kwekwe.
Al-Shabaab, 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 Ncube and another Mnangagwa ally, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube.
When Mnangagwa appointed “Mudha” Ncube, there was a 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 misgivings.
In March 2020, the United States designated Zimbabwe’s former Presidential Guard commander Anselem Sanyatwe, now an ambassador, and Ncube for their “role in human rights abuses related to political repression in Zimbabwe”.
This further vindicated critics who had ques tioned his appointment. A Zanu-PF insider said Ncube had remained “the hooligan that he has always been” as minister. He still embraced gangsterism, violence, brutality and thuggery to settle issues.
A week before being fired, he bused a group of his Al-Shabaab 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 to his own benefit, not necessarily to help 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 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,” the source added.
“Mnangagwa’s allies had been repeatedly warning him Mudha was destabilising the party and undermining him. He took a long time 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 Ncube was now undermining Mnangagwa to vengefully help his deputy and rival Chiwenga after he was blocked from becoming the party’s provincial chairperson.
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” Ncube and he became destructive as he lashed out in all directions, using fear and violence, insiders say. While “Mudha” Ncube 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, “Mudha” Ncube’s nephew, 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.