By BLESSINGS MASHAYA in Harare

Owen Ncube has been sacked as state security minister.

ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sacked one of his perceived close allies Owen “Mudha” Ncube for “inappropriate” conduct for a Cabinet minister.

The Daily News reported yesterday that the controversial former State Security minister had been linked to chaos which erupted at a Zanu PF provincial meeting in the Midlands at the weekend.

“His Excellency … has in terms of Section 340, sub-Section (1), paragraph (f), as read with Section 104, sub-Section (1) of the Constitution … removed Owen Ncube from the Office of Cabinet minister and minister of government with immediate effect for conduct inappropriate for a minister,” the chief secretary in Mnangagwa’s office, Misheck Sibanda, announced yesterday.

The Gokwe-Kana MP was appointed State Security minister in September 2018, a few weeks after Mnangagwa began his full five-year term as State president after narrowly winning that year’s presidential poll.

Yesterday, the Daily News reported how Ncube had been accused of being a prime player behind the violence which was witnessed in the Midlands at the weekend, as the region attempted to complete the election of its full complement of provincial executives.

This was despite the fact that the province had seemingly appeared to have managed to contain its internal wars at the end of last year, after Larry Mavhima was elected provincial boss by consensus, as other regions were burning.

Well-placed sources told the newspaper that so chaotic did the Midlands meeting become, that former Energy minister Fortune Chasi — who was superintending the process — was forced to call off the gathering after a 12-hour heated disagreement.

This apparently came as some aggrieved party members protested against alleged attempts by a faction linked to Local Government minister July Moyo and Ncube, to allocate the position of deputy provincial chairperson to Edmore Chiherenge — against Mavhima’s wishes.

One of the sources even claimed that this later saw the MP for Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe, Prosper Machando, being involved in a fist fight with an unnamed youth.

Contacted by the Daily News, Machando refused to discuss the matter at the weekend saying “it is not my duty to discuss with the media what transpired at the meeting”.

“But if we were involved in a fight we would be arrested. That is what the law says. So, I don’t know what you are talking about,” he added.

Another source claimed that trouble began after a faction linked to Moyo and Ncube allegedly brought two kombis full of their supporters who were armed with machetes, to intimidate supporters of the rival camp, to ensure that only their allies would constitute the provincial executive.

“The whole process was chaotic … When people protested, it was then that Machando charged at the youth before slapping him, resulting in the young man retaliating, whereupon an ugly fist fight ensued.

“Outside, there were two kombis full of people armed with machetes, which made the atmosphere intimidating. So, some people decided to leave fearing for their lives.

“The chaos escalated after people who won in various administrative districts discovered that their names had been taken out and replaced with those of losers when the final list came from the national party headquarters — showing that somebody there had tampered with the list.

“All this contributed to the chaos that led to the abandonment of the process of allocating positions, from deputy provincial chairperson going down,” the source said.

A guarded Chasi, while confirming to the Daily News that the party elections in the Midlands had indeed been halted, added that: “We had too much work to do, and so we did not conclude anything”.

In the meantime, it has emerged that the elections will now be held on Saturday.

In April 2019, Ncube was also accused of having caused a storm both in government and Zanu PF — after he allegedly directed a group of mine invaders led by a former MP, Vongai Mupereri, to resume operations at Gaika Gold Mine despite the High Court having ruled against the marauders.

Gaika Mine was a joint venture between China Africa Investment, Development Company Ltd (CAIDC) and Duration Gold Limited (DGL), who were said to have been “terrorised” by the machete-wielding invaders from 2017.

This prompted a critic of Mnangagwa’s government, well-known American economist and currency expert, Steve Hanke, to claim at the time that the invasion of Gaika Mine was an example of how property rights were being violated in Zimbabwe by top Zanu PF and government officials.

“To get to a micro point, in February 2019, the Gaika Mine was invaded. This is a property rights issue.

“Again, these things are all property rights … money, hard budget constraints and a political party that dominates … and it’s fundamentally a crime syndicate.

“If you look at this mine, it was invaded and taken over and the looting began.

“Then … within the past two weeks, the mine was finally sealed and the trespassers were thrown out,” Hanke said during an address at the famed Cato Institute, an American think tank.

“But that’s not the end of the story, we have had 14 months since this particular mine in the Midlands was invaded … over 80 people killed, at least US$100 million has been looted from the mine, maybe double that.

“Then the mine manager’s home in Kwekwe was invaded by youth wielding machetes. The group, or shall we say the gang, is Al Shabaab and the leader of this crime syndicate is … the current minister of State Security,” Hanke said further in remarks that embarrassed authorities to no end.

Mortifyingly, Hanke’s address at Cato came at the same time that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube was attending the International Monetary Fund’s Spring meetings in Washington — rendering his mission there virtually useless.

And a few days after Hanke issued his damaging warnings, “Mudha” was then thrown into the spotlight after he wrote a letter to Mupereri and his syndicate to resume mining at Gaika Mine — notwithstanding that the High Court had found the invaders to be in contempt of court and ordered them to spend 90 days in prison.

“I acknowledge receipt of your letter … regarding the closure of the Gaika syndicate.

“Be advised that the national Joint Operations Command (JOC) was never mandated or ordered to close the mine.

“I have checked with the relevant authority on this issue. By way of this minute, the syndicate can resume its operations.

“Any queries regarding the matter should be raised with the undersigned,” Ncube said injudiciously.

To the credit of Midlands provincial affairs minister Mavhima, he emphatically pooh-poohed Ncube’s letter, saying pointedly that there was a group of Zanu PF bigwigs which was abusing its alleged closeness to Mnangagwa to engage in “criminal and corrupt activities”.

“My position is that the Gaika invasion remains illegal until a proper instruction from the Joint Operations Command is directed to the provincial JOC.

“The provincial JOC should not be given instructions by individuals. That letter is directed to the syndicate, not the provincial JOC.

“The situation remains unchanged and the operations by the syndicate are illegal,” a resolute Mavhima told the Daily News then.

“They must follow the proper channels to acquire a proper permit from the Ministry of Mines.

“Zanu PF … and the president have no role in Gaika Mine. People must not use the party and the president’s name as well for their own benefit.

“We are talking about property rights which are being violated. We cannot watch that anarchy prevailing. It’s not acceptable.

“Zimbabwe is open for business and so we want investors to come in freely. Property rights must not be violated,” the miffed Mavhima added.

The High Court had issued an order in 2018 prohibiting Mupereri and his syndicate from occupying Gaika Mine.

However, Mupereri ignored the court order, leading to Chief Justice Luke Malaba ordering his arrest for contempt of court. – Daily News