Zimbabwean social media was yesterday was treated to a very mediocre publicity stunt or rather shame of a political campaign by the Midlands Minister of State Affairs gold mining kingpin turned politician Owen Mudha Ncube. Mudha as he is locally known, a member of the Zanu-PF party was elected into parliament in July 2013 to represent Gokwe-Kana Constituency.
Born Owen Ncube on 17 April 1968 in Kwekwe, he has been a strong and instrumental member of Mnangagwa’s gold mafia in the Midlands province, which saw him elevated to power despite the foul cry by the residents of Midlands who believe he should be in prison.
Owen Ncube is not a very popular man with the local electorate following his shady dealings, involvement in murders and disappearing of locals have resorted to campaigning with $2.00 notes and party regalia as seen in the video. In short, Mudha is untouchable and runs Midlands Province like his backyard said another gold dealer.
At a poorly attended rally, Owen is seen handing out bank notes to the women whether by force or came because they heard he was giving out money. “It is rather ironic that in our new dispensation the local thieves and murderers are rewarded with top governmental posts,” said a local political analyst Kenneth CHikuti. He expressed concern over the level of involvement of Mudha in state-sponsored human rights violations on ordinary people and suspected anti-Zanu PF regime which increased in the year 2016 as the campaign to elevate Mnangagwa’s popularity within his home region in the Mugabe succession bid.
We spoke to Kenneth Chikuti a local analyst who expressed concerns “It is worrisome the growing numbers of state agencies that have infiltrated the Midlands province since May 2016 when the top leadership of Zanu PF fought for the Commander in Chief position. Suddenly everyone new or unfamiliar to the Midlands circles was considered an anti-spy. It became worse towards and after the interface rally held at the Mkoba Teachers College grounds on the 1st of September 2017. People were harassed for trivial matters; people could not walk in groups of more than 3 as they were immediately arrested for national security reasons, cars were stopped and searched randomly. Who has the energy and time to plot against Zanu PF? I mean what kind of society are they trying to lead people, isolation? Owen’s bid has been to try and revive Mnangagwa’s name in his home province and by all means, he has terrorised the Midlands Province instead. Look at the turn out at the MDC rally, people are tired of his intimidation, harassment and reign of terror of Zanu Pf. It is clear the people do not want this government to rule for the next 5years, they have driven voters in their numbers to MDC”.
The Zvishavane born Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has been in the least popular in his own home province for his role and involvement in the Gukurahundi massacre the bloodiest in Zimbabwean since the 1980s. The atrocities committed by this man in this province of Midlands and Matabeleland saw the death of nearly 20 000 people or more dead and thousands of others disbursed. “People in Midlands have not forgotten and cannot be fooled anymore. We desperately need a change in this region. Our story has not been told. Media has focused mostly in Matabeleland but we are equally victims of Gukurahundi” said a local tribe’s man.
“With the aid of the state security agencies, Taliban militia (the green bomber of Zanu PF) and locally led Zanu PF gangs, “We are monitored and watched of our every move you will never know who you are talking to as one minute you could be passing a simple remark to fellow youth and the next you are being beaten or picked up for questioning” said an MSU student who refused to be identified. He further narrated “The National Army, police force, has been at the forefront of acts of human rights violation in not only in our neighbourhoods but even at the campuses they are attacking students. There have been representatives neither address to the students following the death of two students recently. The two coincidentally drowned in two different dams at the same time. It is rather suspicious and this has been the same pattern or cause of death of MSU students in recent years. One can only wonder how they end up at dams instead of lectures” he added.
Mnangagwa on the 2nd of December 2017 assumed the position if Chancellor of the institution. Immediately after, the state-owned Midlands State University tightened up rules by announcing new rules including expelling any and all students suspected or believed to be activists and further monitors those suspected to be influential or popular within their peers. The new Chancellor has dissolved Student Union and student social clubs. “It’s like we are in prison not in University, we are not free at all. Last year we were terrorised and beaten by members of the Army, we could not even walk in town” he said.
We spoke to Garikai Kasamba newspaper trader “The heavy presence of Central Intelligence Officers, military personnel and the Zanu PF militia led by the Minister calls for concern for us locals. I cannot distribute newspapers that are pro-opposition anymore as that landed me in prison for three days he said. “I am not printing the newspapers here neither am I campaigning for the opposition party but I was locked up for promoting their agenda. I am working to feed my family. This is how I earn my living. I was charged for mass media abuse (AIPPA) but I am just a vendor, not a journalist. They do not care who you are, if you are considered a threat to them, they will come after you full force. I had my trading licence suspended and reissued on conditions I only sell the Herald and the Gazette” he said.
Working with Owen Ncube are Zanu-PF politburo members July Moyo and Zanu-PF Midland provincial secretary for Information and Publicity Cornelius Mupereri. The local mafia is known to control not only the city but the entire state organs, security forces and police in Midlands. No activity, communication on any platform is carried out in Gweru without their approval and consent in a bid to conceal their role on the streets. “One can only question the moral of Mnangagwa on the merit of the company he keeps in the Midlands” said a local city elder.
There are also the unresolved murder cases surrounding gold dealings of Midlands which have tainted Mnangagwa and the Minister Owen Ncube. Most of these murder mysteries and missing people scandals have never been investigated or resolved. One such key case is that of 27year old CIO Agent Kudzai Chirenje. The Kwekwe based agent who was stationed at the Mnangagwa residence in Sherwood Kwekwe. His lifeless body was found in the Munyati river area of Kwekwe.
Another Kwekwe gold dealer Joe was found dead in his van after over a few years ago. Joe was a gold panner with a market in South Africa, Mudha and Joe had been buddies in business with Joe smuggling gold to South Africa for Mudha. The deals went sour when the accounts did not add up. Joe was involved in an accident just outside of Kwekwe. The two men sitting on either side of Joe survived the accident and so did Owen who was in the front seat and the driver of the van.
In April 2018 a case was reported of Owen Ncube’s wingman Earnest Masendeke of Kwekwe and his two accomplices who assaulted and killed Happison Machaba. Machaba died after being beaten and tortured for several hours after he was cornered in a house where the trio found him sleeping with his girlfriend who then called the ambulance but Machaba was pronounced dead on arrival.
In another report, a member of the opposition party MDC’s lifeless body was found in Mtapa after she went missing on her way from a funeral. She had been warned not to attend gatherings on allegations she was there to campaign. Her body was not retrieved until three days later leaving the residents paralysed in fear.
A local activist 36-year-old Chamunorwa Nyamunda; a former Law student and a graduate of Midlands State University disappeared in December of 2016. Chamunorwa who was in the company of Ivy Kuzonyei on the 26th of December 2016 accident some 5Km out of the central town zone disappeared shortly after leaving the hospital where he was treated and cleared by the medical team. “He was fine and joking as he left this place said a staff at the private medical centre. The woman was admitted overnight with head swelling but was discharged the following day.”
Chamu a well known local who campaigned in local townships and university campuses against intimidation and harassment of the youth and students had years of running with Cornelius Mpeperi who is the Midlands’s Zanu PF secretary for Information and publicity. Chamunorwa stood against state agencies regarding the boundaries and respect of individual views and freedom of expression and is believed to have been working to launch a campaign against the harassment for his passenger the Botswana based woman by the law enforcement officers and agencies.
“He believed in the rights of the people, he was concerned for his fellow residents and would stop at nothing to advocate for them. We know who is behind this but we have lost hope of finding him as the police are not doing anything about the matter” said a fellow former MSU student union representative who worked with Nyamunda.
Ass Ins Mukwende confirmed they are investigating the matter of missing persons Chamunorwa Nyamunda who was reported missing in January 2016. “We can confirm the accident and his disappearance but we cannot disclose any information in this case as it will jeopardise the investigations, we, however, appeal to anyone with information to come forward”.
On the streets of Gweru however, it is not news that Nyamunda was last seen being picked by an Isuzu van near the Gweru Town Hall and the only witness Learnmore Takawira a municipal security guard was found dead at the Gweru River in February 2017. Takawira attracted attention when he announced in a bar he had witnessed Nyamunda being assaulted before he was forced into an Isuzu van by known state agencies.
Takawira is said to have mentioned being in possession of a video on his mobile of the incident he was claiming. Regular patrons at the local Pagango hangout confirmed the incident. He was seen leaving the bar Takawira was followed by two men and that was the last he was seen alive. His death has a lot of unanswered questions as there were tyre threads marks around the scene where the body was found. The question many ask is how body ended there and why the body was not in the water and half his body was dry if indeed he had drowned, the water level in the Gweru river at the time could have easily washed away the body if indeed it was a drowning.
When we contacted the Gweru police spokesperson Asst Insp Mukwende to comment, he said there were no leads neither foul play suspected in the cases and the public should allow the police to do their job. As usual the members of the Zimbabwe Police would rather be on the highway chasing cash bribes from motorists than investigate real matters.
We have registered to vote and we believe we will see change said a local store owner.