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Matibenga endorses Mujuru

07 May 2018 at 07:18hrs | Views
LUCIA Matibenga, leader of the breakaway faction of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), recently opened up on how she was hounded out of the MDC-T led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Matibenga said it was a female legislator who threw the last blow and finally forced her to leave. Although she is currently leader of her party PDP, Matibenga (LM) said she will not be contesting the presidential elections, but would support People's Rainbow Coalition leader, Joice Mujuru. The following are excerpts of an interview between Matibenga and NewsDay senior parliamentary reporter Veneranda Langa (ND) on different political issues.

ND: There are reports that you have given up leadership of the PDP due to squabbles with Gorden Moyo, are these reports true or false?

LM: That is not true, we are still together with Gorden Moyo and I am the president of the PDP. He is the secretary-general of the People's Rainbow Coalition.

ND: Why did you leave the MDC-T in 2014 and cross over to Elton Mangoma's then MDC Renewal?

LM: I did not like the violence that was now going on in the party. Firstly, there were squabbles between the late Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, and then I was strongly on the late Tsvangirai's side. But when Tsvangirai had squabbles with Biti in 2014, I then decided that Tsvangirai was the problem, because he cannot continue to be quarrelling with everyone, and I sided with Biti.

When I made a decision to side with Biti, I and former MDC-T leader Sekai Holland (former Minister of National Peace and Reconciliation) experienced a tough time, where rowdy youths would threaten us, sing songs to insult us and there was a lot of intra-party violence.

During a caucus meeting of MPs to discuss the differences between Biti and Tsvangirai, I remember the painful moments when one female MP insulted me and recommended that I should leave the party.

I am not going to name the person, but the violence was so serious that even a song was composed against me. When I approached Tsvangirai to ask him to do something about the insults I got from the female MP, he said I should just move on and tolerate it because I was an elderly person.

I really did not think this was the best way to solve problems in the party and this forced me to leave the MDC-T and cross over to Biti's party.

ND: How did you get into politics and what was your stint in Parliament like?

LM: I have a very strong trade union background, and I am also one person that participated during the liberation struggle. When Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister in 1980, he would support workers and announce the minimum wage during May Day celebrations. But, then later things changed and a policy (Esap) was introduced, which as trade unionists we thought was not good for workers and was only meant to please the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

As the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, we started to oppose the policy (Esap), and the late MDC founder, Gibson Sibanda and the late Tsvangirai engaged Mugabe about it, but he did not listen.

We then formed the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) to keep checks on the Constitution. The Working People's Convention was then formed and it included people like workers (both formal and informal), trade unionists, war veterans, residents' associations, and others, and the aim was to try and solve problems affecting people in the country.

One thing led to another, and in 1999 to 2000 we formed the MDC.

In June 2000 we contested the elections and got 57 out of the 120 seats in the National Assembly. In 2000, I contested the Shurugwi parliamentary seat but I lost.
In 2005 I did not contest, because I was MDC chairperson for women. I contested the Kuwadzana seat in 2008 and won. I won again in 2013, but when I crossed over to Biti's party, I was one of the MDC Renewal MPs to be recalled on March 2015.

During the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2013 I was minister of Labour. When Biti decided to join the MD-T Alliance, I decided to break ranks with him and remained in the PDP.

ND: So are you going to contest the 2018 Presidential elections?

LM: I think some of the problems that we have in this country are the "big man" syndromes where one would rather be the leader.

People need to be rationale and see the big picture that we need to remove Zanu-PF. I noticed that it was impossible for me to campaign and make a name before the general elections in a few months, and so I decided to support a fellow female candidate, who has already made a name, the People's Rainbow Coalition presidential candidate Joice Mujuru (National People's Party leader).

ND: So what is your view over the unity of all opposition parties in Zimbabwe to remove Zanu-PF from power?

LM: There is this wide call for the opposition to unite, but there is need for the leaders to be humble and support a candidate who is the people's favourite and is likely to win the elections. We do not need to be just too hungry for power, but we need to see the bigger picture and support Mujuru, because she is a more experienced politician and has already made a name in politics.

I think, it is very possible for a female candidate to win the elections, because women make up 52% of the population and the majority of voters and they must rally behind a female candidate.


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