Former close friends Gokwe-Kana MP Owen “Mudha” Ncube and Kwekwe Central MP, Masango Matambanadzo, popularly known as Blackman, apparently on account of his dark complexion, were involved in a physical altercation at a public place in Kwekwe’s Amaveni high-density suburb recently.
by BLESSED MHLANGA
The incident has now become a subject of criminal investigation by the police and disciplinary procedure by their party, Zanu PF.
Ncube who is reportedly closely linked to Midlands Zanu PF godfather Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, allegedly paid Matambanadzo a visit at his shop in Amaveni last week on Sunday around 4pm. The two reportedly held private talks on an undisclosed matter before Ncube walked out.
Discussions in that room remain a subject of speculation.
According to people who were sitting outside Matambanadzo’s shop, the Gokwe-Kana MP left the shop after the meeting and as he drove off, Matambanadzo got into his own car and chased after Ncube.
“It was movie-style drama as Matambanadzo drove after Mudha’s car and only stopped when it appeared they were about to collide.
Blackman, who was dressed in a vest, got out of his car and walked to the driver’s window of Mudha’s car, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, and punched him,” said an eye witness who preferred anonymity.
There were accounts to the effect that Matambanadzo was particularly irked by Ncube’s derogatory remarks claiming that the vest that MP Matambanadzo was wearing during the scuffle had been bought in China during the MPs’ ill-fated trip to the far east.
Matambanadzo and other legislators missed their flight back home after having gone on an unsanctioned shopping trip over a thousand kilometres away from Beijing where they were supposed to be.
What intrigued many onlookers was that Matambanadzo and Ncube used to hang around together and were both known to represent Mnangagwa’s interests.
Matambanadzo however reportedly fell out of favour with Mnangagwa for undisclosed reasons.
At one point the two adversaries teamed up to beat former Kwekwe rural DCC Chairman George Makombe over allegations that he belonged to the Mujuru faction.
In a letter leaked to our sister paper NewsDay at that time, Makombe wrote to Zanu PF Midlands provincial chairman Jaison Machaya seeking recourse, accusing Ncube and Matambanadzo of targeting him along factional lines.
“. . . at a meeting at the district party offices . . . I was verbally and physically attacked in the presence of central committee, provincial and district members, being accused of blocking Mai [Mrs Auxilia] Mnangagwa’s passage to the central committee. Again, I was told by [Masango] Matambanadzo and [Owen] Ncube that I belonged to Mujuru’s camp . . .,” wrote Makombe.
Now Matambanadzo and Ncube have become avowed enemies.
“They hate people who are progressive and tell the truth. All they want are praise singers but for me that does not work. We have to respect the people like what President Mugabe has said,” Matambanadzo said about Ncube.
Matambanadzo has in the recent past been openly ridiculed by his peers in the party for his lack of education and has also been labelled a supporter of a rival Zanu PF faction allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, a position that made him an outcast in the Midlands power matrix.
Matters were made worse when he won the Zanu PF primary elections against Conelius Mupereri, a close Mnangagwa ally, and went further to win the seat against MDC-T’s Blessing Chebundo who had twice defeated Mnangagwa in elections.
Despite being MP for Gokwe-Kana some 250km away from Kwekwe, Mudha has vast business interests in the Midlands town, having been born and bred in the town’s oldest suburb of Mbizo. He also attended Manunure Secondary School.
He runs a project which has seen him buy groceries for the elderly in the old suburb where he grew up and has a huge following among the ordinary citizens including touts and gold panners among the youths.
According to many Zanu PF supporters in the Midlands, Ncube is the unofficial face of Mnangagwa in the province and has been credited with building and sustaining the minister’s stranglehold in the province.
These allegations have been denied by both Mnangagwa and Ncube. In the latest spat with Matambanadzo, Ncube a tactical politician, has played down the incident saying he never fought with Matambanadzo and does not get involved in turf wars.
The tiff between Ncube and Matambanadzo is not a new thing. The two clashed in November last year when Matambanadzo invited Deputy Minister of Mines Fred Moyo to address small scale miners in Kwekwe without seeking clearance from the party provincial leadership.
“It is worrying that a minister from Zanu PF would just address a meeting without informing party structures. That was a serious show of disrespect to Kwekwe district and a violation of party protocol,” Ncube said.
“We don’t behave like headless chickens in Zanu PF; we are guided by principles and are disciplined cadres. It is sad that when one gets appointed minister, they want to abuse that position to get power illegitimately within the party,” Ncube charged.
Matambanadzo responded by defending Moyo who has also been branded a member of the Mujuru faction.
“I have held several meetings with Moyo over gold panning in Kwekwe, so as he was passing through, he called me and requested that we have an impromptu meeting with gold panners so that he could get the information firsthand. This is why some party members were not informed,” Matambanadzo said.
Matambanadzo accused Ncube of being power hungry and greedy.
“Those people are greedy and power hungry. They think the party belongs to their families, but no, Zanu PF is for the people, for everyone and not this elitist group which is against development projects which I am championing to help the poor,” he said.
The fight appears strongly to weigh against Matambanadzo who is constantly taunted for his lack of education, having gone only as far as Grade Two by his own admission.
His critics chide him for allegedly making shallow arguments which embarrass the party, especially in parliament.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the duo would face disciplinary action for putting the name of the party into disrepute.
“The party will summon them because we cannot allow our MPs to engage in a fist fight because it brings the name of the party into disrepute,” said Gumbo.
Party provincial chairperson Jaison Machaya also said the province would investigate the incident adding: “If it happened, the party has ways of dealing with such matters.”
The party’s Chief Whip, Joram Gumbo said: “It is dishonourable for MPs to do such things.”
Zanu PF Central Committee member Douglas Tapfuma and the Kwekwe district executive are pushing for the recalling of Matambanadzo from parliament.
“We have recommended that the party recalls Matambanadzo due to gross indiscipline and undermining senior party members,” Tapfuma said.