Ncube has been described as a boardroom tactician and a schemer, but his stock seems to be on the rise among leaders of southern African states and that could prove to be his strongest points.
Former American ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, despite his disparaging comments on Ncube, noted that he was an important player and highly valued by South Africa.
“But he is useful to many, including the regime and South Africa, so is probably a cross to be borne for some time yet,” Dell said of Ncube in a diplomatic cable leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
During negotiations to end the Zimbabwe crisis, former South African president, Thabo Mbeki is reported to have applauded Ncube, saying he had worked and negotiated more sincerely than others.
The negotiations led to the formation of the inclusive government.
But the ace in Ncube’s pack is undoubtedly his relationship with South African president, Jacob Zuma. The two are in-laws following the marriage of their children two years ago.
Ncube is usually coy about his relationship with Zuma, but others claim his newfound courage to contest for the MDC-M presidency has the backing of the South African leader.
But the former university lecturer disputes that, claiming that Zuma is a professional who has earned both the respect of Zanu PF and MDC-T.
“Like any family we discuss and share ideas on politics, but these are private discussions,” he said in an interview last year.
A political analyst, Effie Ncube said while Ncube had a closer ear and better access to Zuma, he expected the newly elected party leader to maintain a professional relationship with the South African leader.
“They are both professional and should be able to separate their personal lives from their professions,” he said. “Country to country relations should not be limited to their personal lives.”
The political analyst said Ncube’s clout in South Africa had long been established as he had worked with a number of organisations in the neighbouring country.
“He worked with many organisations there and he certainly will have an effect,” Ncube said. “He worked on setting up a curriculum for returnees in South Africa from the 1980s right through the 1990s.”
An analyst, who declined to be named, conceded that Ncube was bound to have an influence on how Zuma and other regional leaders will treat Zimbabwe as he was viewed as a sober leader.