HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked Owen Mudha Ncube as state security minister on Monday as Zanu PF continues to feel the tremors from its divisive provincial elections concluded two weeks ago.
Acting Chief Cabinet Secretary George Charamba said Ncube was removed for “conduct inappropriate for a minister of government” but gave no further details.
Government sources told ZimLive that Ncube was given the boot for instigating post-election violence in Midlands province and causing disharmony in Zanu PF.
Ncube was meeting Central Intelligence Organisation directors when he was handed a letter terminating him, government sources said.
Known as Mnangagwa’s enforcer, his appointment as state security minister in September 2018 was heavily criticised. His limited education and links to Al Shabaab, a violent vigilante group accused of a string of murders in Midlands province made him unsuitable, critics said.
In a development pregnant with irony, Ncube’s penchant for violence which appeared to have landed him the job in the first place appears responsible for his surprise demotion.
Last Saturday, he allegedly mobilised members of Al Shabaab to intimidate Zanu PF officials during a provincial meeting called to confirm winners of the internal elections held two weeks ago, and to elect their deputies.
Two minibuses reportedly disgorged dozens of youths armed with machetes who were menacingly milling outside the Zanu PF Winery Conference Centre in Gweru, ready to attack Ncube’s opponents.
Although he has no party role in the province, Ncube reportedly sat at the top table after giving himself the title of “overseer”. During the meeting, he is reported to have suppressed discussions by rudely interrupting speakers before going on to impose his loyalists as deputies to the newly-elected party officials.
“There was serious disharmony at the end of the meeting. Some people walked out before it finished fearing Mudha’s mob outside. Word was sent to Mnangagwa about what happened, and he was warned that the party would lose dismally in elections next year if Mudha is not contained and stopped from his destabilising actions,” a Zanu PF official who attended the meeting said.
Ncube was unhappy after he was forced to withdraw from the race to become Zanu PF’s Midlands chairman in favour of Larry Mavima – a compromise candidate imposed by Mnangagwa in what was dubbed “guided democracy”.
Ncube had been due to battle the outgoing chairman Daniel Mackenzie Ncube in an acrimonious race before Mnangagwa stepped in and imposed Mavima.
As state security minister, Ncube ordered a three-day internet shutdown in January 2019 during nationwide protests against steep fuel price increases.
In October of the same year, the United States cited him for “gross violations of human rights” and added him to its sanctions list.
“In his role as the minister of national security, Ncube, with the support of other Zimbabwean government officials, ordered the Zimbabwean security services to identify, abduct, and mistreat individuals assessed to be supporters of a Zimbabwean opposition group,” the US State Department said.
“In addition, while in his position, the government of Zimbabwe has at times used so-called ‘ferret teams’ to abduct and beat individuals deemed to be a threat to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. Ncube is being designated for being responsible for, or participating in, human rights abuses related to political repression in Zimbabwe.”
Ncube is the fifth minister to be sacked by Mnangagwa after Prisca Mupfumira, Fortune Chasi, Energy Mutodi and Obadiah Moyo.