BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Namesakes are commonplace the world over and when one shares the same name with a public official it usually becomes an interesting scenario indeed, especially if that official is the subject of either ridicule or praise.
For Gweru’s 17-year-old Mthuli Ncube, being a namesake has turned out to be more of a curse than a source of pride. The Midlands based teenager believes sharing the same name with the Finance Minister has turned to be a real curse for him.
A tale of the two Mthuli Ncubes is how one sums it up. The other one is an accomplished professor and trending politician upon whose shoulders lies the hopes of millions of Zimbabweans. The other one is no high flyer at all. He is a poverty stricken figure confined to the rural backyard of Vungu constituency in Lower Gweru.
On the day this paper met him, during the World Food Day celebrations held at Insukamini Irrigation Scheme, the young Mthuli was putting on shoes without laces. Of course, the richer Mthuli might not even bother about what a shoelace entails because that is obviously the last thing on his mind.
The new dispensation saw the appointment of Mthuli Ncube the professor and technocrat as the Finance minister. The nation welcomed him with anticipation as people thought that he was going to be the saviour sent to resuscitate an economy that was left in a comatose by the late former president Robert Mugabe-led government.
Before his swearing in, Ncube seemed to have had all the solutions to the economic problems that have bedevilled the country on the finger tips. However, he has become public enemy number one because of his austere measures.
But Vungu’ Mthuli Ncube is a different story altogether.
Dressed in white pants, brown shoes without laces and a matching black shirt, the boy wonders all over the place and no one even bothered to look at him. To many he was just a teenager perhaps chasing after girls at an event that attracted scores of villagers from the surrounding area.
But here is a teen who bears the name with Zimbabwe’s finance minister. He is called Mthuli Mark Ncube or just Mthuli Ncube.
The young Mthuli has a sad story to tell. A school dropout, who lives with his mother and uncle, Mthuli shared how the name has caused him a lot of trouble with fellow villagers.
“Some people jokingly say that I bear the name of someone who is causing them to suffer. I have encountered such moments here in the village. My name is Mthuli Ncube and that cannot change,” he said.
The young man who failed to sit for O’Level examinations at the nearby Insukamini Secondary School for his own reasons said he doesn’t know much about the finance minister though he confirmed how life has become tougher back in the village since the removal of Mugabe from power.
“I do not know much about Mthuli Ncube — all I hear is that he deals with money. However, life is tough here, the economy is bad and people are suffering. Life is unbearable to all,” he said.
The country is currently grappling with massive price hikes of basic commodities with citizens being hit hard. The hospitals are no longer places to seek health as doctors and nurses have downed tools because they earn too little to allow them to perform their duties well. They say they are incapacitated.
However, it is in Vungu where Mthuli believes his life has come to an end at such a tender age. Perhaps one day he will own a pair of decent shoes and be able to complete his O’Levels. Meanwhile, about 320km away from his village his namesake lives a lavish life, often flying to a faraway country to visit his family at government cost.
Mthuli the minister drives in luxury cars, stays in expensive hotels and travels abroad frequently in private jets. The world is indeed sometimes a cruel place to live. The tale of the two Mthuli Ncubes is a sad reality and an example of the gap between the rich and the poor.