Admirers and supporters alike extol him as factual and realistic about the political situation in Zimbabwe, making him a fitting leader to occupy State House, but detractors vilify him as a divisive and unreliable politician who derailed the journey to “complete change” in 2008.
Meet Professor Welshman Ncube, the man who has declared an interest in Zimbabwe’s top job, come election time.
His supporters believe the next presidential election will surprise many and Ncube will be that shock.
“We want to take the council, parliamentary (elections), senatorial (elections) and the Presidency,” he declared while addressing supporters in Hwange recently.
Ncube is the leader of the smaller MDC party, formed after the infamous fall-out with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over participating in Senate elections in 2005.
His supporters believe the professor of Law is the panacea to Zimbabwe’s protracted political and economic crisis because he is an honest man.
“The reality of Zimbabwe’s politics is that a new form of politics is emerging. It is a politics of truth, honesty and delivery. It is in this reality that Ncube is steps ahead of the pack,” said Nhlanhla Dube, the MDC spokesperson.
Political analyst John Makumbe believes Ncube can win the presidency if the elections are held in a free and fair environment.
“Ncube is equally capable to run this country and may surprisingly become the next country’s President,” said Makumbe.
Bulawayo-based political commentator Effie Ncube said of the presidential hopeful:
“The impact he has shown in the current political scenario making other political party leaders feel uncomfortable of his presence, means he is capable of winning the elections and is a threat to other political leaders’ chances.”
Researcher and development campaigner Farai Maguwu hails Ncube as factual and realistic about the political situation in Zimbabwe.
“His major strength as I see it is that he is a chief strategist. He is very factual and realistic about the situation in the country,” said Maguwu.
But others think Ncube is a non-starter and his chances of occupying State House are remote.
“At the moment Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai leads the race and is clearly the main man,” said Hopewell Gumbo, a Harare-based social commentator.
“ My guess is that Ncube is well aware of this fact (and) is looking more towards playing his cards around the balance of power politics between the two main contenders.”
Former student leader Blessing Ivan Vava also dismissed Ncube accusing him of being responsible for the infamous split in 2005 saying:
“No one takes him seriously; he lacks confidence to lead as witnessed by his invitation of (Deputy Prime Minister Arthur) Mutambara after the fallout with Tsvangirai and even went further to support Simba Makoni in 2009 when his party had its own president.”
Mutare-based researcher James Mupfumi accused Ncube of being more of a regional leader instead of having a national complexion.
Yet, against all these uncharitable comments Ncube’s supporters remain optimistic about his chances.
“While it is true that he did not win in Makokoba in 2008 it is also true that he has won in Bulawayo North/East in 2000 and 2005 and understands that each election is a different election from the last one,” his spokesperson, Nhlanhla said.
But who exactly is Welshman Ncube?
Born in Gweru on July 7 1960, Ncube grew up in Makhulambila, Lower Gweru. His parents were peasant farmers and active members of Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu.
He obtained a Masters and Phd degrees in Law from the University of Zimbabwe.
Ncube is married to Thobekile Siwela Ncube (MaSiwela) and the couple has five children.
Ncube enjoys playing tennis, football and squash. He is an ardent supporter of Highlanders Football Club and English Premier League side, Arsenal.
He says his motivation for going into politics was influenced largely by the desire for social justice.
Ncube is a farmer.