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Obituary: Fallen MDC hero Judge Ncube was not a man of positions and power

By Sibanengi Dube

In life, the late former MDC SA Chairman Judge Ncube, united Zimbabweans across tribal divides and is doing exactly the same in his death. As news of Ncube’s untimely death painfully gripped the Zimbabwe community in South Africa, different WhatsApp groups emerged from across tribal and political divides to mourn and mobilise funds for his funeral and burial.

Judge Ncube
Judge Ncube

Even though he died a Nelson Chamisa fervent backer, Johannesburg based members of other Zimbabwe political parties could not hide their appreciation of Ncube’s good leadership qualities. In a rare display of love, different groups strived to raise resources for his burial.

The Johannesburg based Ncube succumbed to diabetic complications a few days after his birthday, while still on Christmas vacation at his home district of Motopo in Matebeleland South and is expected to be laid to rest this week in his village of Sun-yet-san.

Ncube gained prominence in 2005, when he resisted a tribal temptation to follow Welshman Ncube and tacitly stood with the late fancied Morgan Tsvangirai after the split. He remained the sole voice of the iconic Tsvangirai within the MDC Structures in SA when the Party’s Provincial structure under Jabulani Mkwananzi defected to Ncube during the acrimonious split.

He was then elected interim Provincial Chairman by the districts. Using his meagre resources, Ncube re-grouped remnants of MDC supporters to rebuild Party structures throughout South Africa. Despite his lack of formal education Ncube saw the need to immediately put to an end the tribal clashes that were manifesting within party structures under the leadership of Mkwananzi.

He instilled a culture of tribal tolerance within MDC structures. He insisted on tribal balancing of all Party structures. His stance brought to an end the tribal wars which were sporadically breaking out
in Johannesburg.

Ncube’s executive was the first to embrace a big number of Shona leaders in the top six of the Party’s provincial executive in South Africa. The political tribal balance template he coined brought peace in MDC structures which is still being enjoyed today.

His successor Austin Moyo, maintained the same template that saw prominent Shona MDC cadres like Kunaka Nhira, William Mabona and Rodgers Mudarikwa occupying very senior provincial positions.

The Tsvangirai die-hard enthusiast wasn’t a man of positions and power, but a waiver for the Party. True to his nature, he did not re-contest the provincial chairmanship in 2007 in Bloemfontein, instead he preferred to be appointed an ‘Overseer’ a ceremonious position that does not exist in MDC structures.

The Bloemfontein Congress produced a still-born structure after the chairmanship was shockingly snatched by a stranger Malcom X. The Mayfair Declaration however rectified the anomaly by ushering in Austin Moyo’s executive. Ncube never sought to be re-elevated back into the province but remained as an active member at his Tembisa branch.

Ncube would humorously describe himself as ‘a grader,’ paving way for future better leaders to take over. Some of us who were fortunate to serve under Ncube learnt lessons of humility from him.

Ncube would openly confess lack of capacity to chair high profile meetings, leaving his deputy Amon Ndlovu to handle complicated Party gatherings dripping with issues of protocol, diplomacy and etiquette. Ndlovu hailed Ncube for his vision after the 2005 split which led to the immediate resuscitation of the party.

Ncube was a grass root organiser of the first grade and a political dramatist who never failed to leave his audience in stitches upon delivering speeches. Former MDC SA Provincial Secretary William Mabona, who served under Ncube, received his death with shock, describing him as ‘a selfless cadre who served the party with all his abilities.’

“Judge managed to unite the Party and worked very well with everyone who wanted to remain in the mainstream MDC,” said Mabona in his condolence message. Respected former SA provincial Chairman Austin Moyo also credited Ncube for shepherding Tsvangirai’s flock in South Africa.

“I first met Judge Ncube in 2005 after he came from Harare to express his unwavering support for Tsvangirai. I was also of the same mind and thinking like other cadres in Johannesburg District like Sibanengi Dube, Amon Ndlovu, the late Remember Moyo, Philemon Moyo, Mudarikwa,
Mabona and many others. Immediately we were busy mobilising for the MDC-T with Judge as the SA Chairman,” said Moyo as he poured out his tribute to the fallen hero.

Current MDC SA chairman Trust Ndlovu, expressed his condolences to the Ncube family and pledged the party’s financial and moral support.

Ndlovu said the Party shall hold his memorial in Johannesburg adding that he shall be leading an MDC delegation from Johannesburg to bury the dearly departed.

Ncube was born on 1 January 1960 to Aida Gumede and Ben Ncube. He grew up in Kezi where he attended school at Drypadpc School. He however did not go far with his education after his family fell victim to Gukurahundi killings which compelled him to drop out at grade 6.

He then worked as a miner at Vumbachigwe Mine before crossing Limpopo River to start a life in exile. He is survived by his wife Esnart Ngoma, four daughters and nine grandchildren.