Only the infamous “angifuni (I don’t want)” retort that he gave Ncube when the Industry Minister approached him over the matter still rings in the minds of those following the saga.
But if one steals into the psyche of the 88-year-old political schemer, one would realise Mugabe believes he has a lot to gain from the power wrangle pitting Ncube and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in the smaller MDC formation.
The first theory speaks of Mugabe wanting to retain control.
If having MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the principals club is already a plateful, Mugabe cannot imagine Ncube, another politician with a solid political constituency, breathing down his neck within the same club.
It is within Mugabe’s interest to have a less politically potent character like Mutambara as a principal.
In continuously denying Ncube his place in the club, Mugabe is trying to make sure that the two MDC formations do not find a platform to gang up against him, as they seem to be doing with the constitution making process.
Another theory, although some believe is far-fetched, is that President Mugabe does not want an influential Ndebele in the country’s political cockpit.
Mugabe is better off with a group of Ndebele politicians he can easily manipulate and who enjoy the ride on the gravy train out of his benevolence.
Given the tenacity with which Mugabe has opposed devolution and cessation, Mugabe does not envisage another vestige of Matebelehood manifesting itself at a national level like the premiership.
He would best have someone who sticks to other issues as opposed to being constantly reminded about how Matebeleland has suffered under his rule.
This is not to reduce Ncube to a regional leader. But in Ncube, Mugabe sees that coming.
Mugabe knows the longer he shields and shelters Mutambara from imminent political oblivion, he is creating a stooge he can team-up with during their closed door GPA principals meetings to harangue Tsvangirai over the Draft Constitution and other contentious matters.
While one would have thought the Ncube-Mutambara saga was limited to Mugabe’s whims, the biggest surprise is that in this matter, bitter rivals Mugabe and Tsvangirai seem to converge.
Tsvangirai, who has condemned Mugabe for failing to swear in party national treasurer Roy Bennett, seems to care less if Mugabe displays the same attitude on Ncube.
It would be naïve to believe the MDC-T leader is doing nothing about this.
Tsvangirai’s apparent act of omission seems to be working well for Mutambara.
A closer look at this would remind you that Tsvangirai and Ncube have a history together which the Premier rekindled in his book “At the deep end”.
Tsvangirai in his book blames Ncube for the 2005 MDC split, something he feels denied him the much needed advantage to outpoll Mugabe in the 2008 elections.
In the Ncube-Mutambara dog fight, Tsvangirai could find this the best opportunity to annihilate Ncube and his formation, which coincidentally enjoys support in Matebeleland where Tsvangirai also commands a large following.
But one would also argue and say in failing to fight for Ncube’s cause, Tsvangirai could be squandering a golden opportunity to broaden his fighting base by working with Ncube in the infamous principals club.
In Mugabe and his Zanu (PF), their MDC formations share a common enemy.
Tsvangirai can be reminded that in politics, you do not remain emotional.
You have to constantly revise your relationships with your enemies and take advantage of present situations to tip the scales in your favour.
A case in point is the Jonathan Moyo issue where Mugabe embraced and elevated his once rabid critic whom he has conveniently used as the sharpest tool against his challengers.
Mugabe has done so even after the same Jonathan Moyo allegedly plotted “a coup” in 2004 in what later became known as the Tsholotsho saga.
While one could be pre-occupied looking at this in the Zimbabwean context, the Jacob Zuma factor has added an interesting dimension to it and further complicated issues.
It is difficult not to imagine the South African President and SADC appointed mediator to the Zimbabwean dialogue, could be influenced by his social proximity to Ncube to “elevate” him to the principals club.
Ncube’s son is married to Zuma’s daughter.
But if you balance this on a scale of objectivity, you would want to credit Zuma for being practical. Zuma feels he needs to start working with someone with a visible political constituency to bridge the vacuum.
Zuma is also aware the process cannot move as Mutambara has no negotiators.
Indeed, he knows the court appeals are a delay tactic by the robotics professor who voluntarily passed the baton to Ncube during the 2011 congress.
Ncube’s MDC enjoys presence in Parliament and all other institutions that have strings to the country’s governing processes.
Zuma, being a shrewd leader, can read between the lines and sees that Mugabe is using the Mutambara-Ncube saga to weaken the MDC’s bargaining power and create confusion.
The question is: Up to when will Ncube continue roaming the perimeters of the principals club?