Lucia Matibenga from Morgan Tsvangirai’s party MDC-T, was sworn in as Minister of Public Service in the inclusive government by Robert Mugabe yesterday. She is a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change and a veteran trade-unionist. She was the vice president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and has also been the president of the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council.
In an interview, earlier this year, with Africa Contact Lucia Matibenga talked about her personal experiences with political violence.
“I was at an MDC meeting when suddenly a group of young men came. People started running, but I am old I could not run away from them. They hit me and I fell. Then they cut me with a knife here in my head”, she told Africa Contact while pointing at the top of her skull.
According to The Zimbabwean, a local newspaper, this is not the only incident experienced by Lucia Matibenga,
“In 2005 thugs from ZANU PF attacked her in her ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) office and broke her arm. The same arm was broken again in 2006 during another attack by state security agents and this has left her hand deformed.”, they write.
“We must target the youth”
When Africa Contact asked Lucia Matibenga about how political violence should be addressed in Zimbabwe, her answer was clear,
“The perpetrates are young, they are poor and unemployed and they perpetrate for just a little amount of money or even drugs. Therefore we must give them something to do so they can be educated and be employed instead of joining youth militias”, she explained
Women’s Rights defender
She also told Africa Contact about the importance of including women in the political decision-making processes. She stressed that women from across the political spectrum should fight together against the male dominated world of politics.
It is unclear whether her opinions will be reflected in her actions as minister of public service. Her area of responsibility does not invite her to address political violence directly since it lies with the minister of -women’s affairs, -justice, -youth and ultimately with the president who, to a large extent, is in control of the security sector. But hopefully she will raise her voice to those ministers and demand a politically induced investigation of the past years violence and impunity of the perpetrators.