WHEN President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired his long-time ally and confidant, former State Security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube on Monday for misconduct, some of the Midlands hardliner’s staunch backers quickly abandoned him.
The reaction of his staunch supporters in Zanu PF, particularly those who had created a WhatsApp group, “Endorsement of Mudha”, prior to the ruling party’s provincial elections, whose outcome in Midlands triggered the demise of the former national security boss, was somewhat surprising.
Mudha Ncube had shown interest in contesting for the provincial chairmanship post, only to be blocked by incumbent chairperson Larry Mavhima whom Mnangagwa imposed to avert nasty factional fights in his backyard.
When news filtered through on Monday that Mnangagwa had fired his close lieutenant for unruly behaviour after Ncube last Saturday stormed a provincial meeting at Winery in Gweru, where he literally took over the agenda of the conference, Mudha’s glorifiers left the social media group (Endorsement of Mudha) in hordes.
Once a vibrant WhatsApp group, where Ncube was given praise names such as “Touch Bomber” and “Mbudhlo”, Monday’s turn of events, however, saw a lull of activity on the group.
The last activity on the group was on Tuesday morning, but members were leaving the social media space in droves.
Mudha’s supporters, however, took to other WhatsApp groups that had been created prior to the provincial elections to discuss the sudden demise of their adored leader.
“What really happened guys? What could be the reason that things had to end up like this?” one Mudha follower quizzed.
A barrage of responses showed that once you become unpopular in Zanu PF and fall out with with the appointing authority in the party, the purported support you previously enjoyed evaporates and certain priviledges are withdrawn from you.
Lumpen elements in the ruling party follow the wind and are quick to suddenly begin ostracising the shunned person.
“We have always said it before that he (Mudha Ncube) knew nothing and was not supposed to get that job (State Security minister),”one activist retorted, a rare utterance in Ncube’s heyday.
Another member said Mnangagwa had made a good move, otherwise he was going to “be tainted” had he kept Ncube in office for long.
Yet another activist mocked and said “ED” (Mnangagwa) was the “game changer” and was going to win 2023 elections because he had “scrapped mandatory ethanol blending, removed duty on all capital machinery and fired a minister for misconduct.”
Others probably still keeping a semblance of allegiance to Ncube chose to be diplomatic and said “ED knew better” why he fired his handy man. However, those in opposition circles remember Ncube as a “tormentor” who made their life “hell on earth” through the use of a Kwekwe-based militant group, Al-Shaabab that mainly used machetes to mete out violence against opponents.
Ncube has to date denied any links to the militant group. They all agree with outspoken independent Norton legislator Themba Mliswa that Mudha used his political muscle, and, in particular, the State Security position to “settle personal scores” against those he perceived to be enemies.
In Kwekwe where Al-Shaabab mostly operated, Blessing Chebundo (former MDC Kwekwe Central MP) and MDC-Alliance Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya could pass for Hollywood actors in an action-packed movie where they are fugitives running away from dangerously armed rivals.
During tense political battles in previous years, the two knew no peace at home and both of them at some point reportedly had to desert their families while hiding from the machete-wielding thugs.
Ironically, early last year Chebundo and other opposition figures defected to Zanu PF and have become relentless Mnangagwa praise singers at ruling party gatherings.