People with disabilities demand equality

Government has been challenged to come with measures to ensure equal access to resources as well as equal treatment between Persons With Disabilities (PWD) and those that lead a normal life.

Speaking to 263chat on the sidelines of a stakeholder’s consultation meeting which seeks to align the Disabled Persons’ Act to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, PWD said they are highly concerned with the levels of inequality which exist between them and other persons who do not have disabilities.

National Chairman of Zimbabwe National Disability Body, Chrispen Manyuke said PWD deserve equal opportunities in all spheres of the socio-economic structures.

He said, “Government has for long prioritized other critical groups in the society like the youths and women. But we as people with disabilities, we have been sidelined from such prioritization.

“We feel we deserve a certain level of consideration in nation building but we are being neglected as some people feel we are incapable of adding value to the economy.

“Government should create employment opportunities for us so that we are able to fend for ourselves,”

Manyuke went on to say government should allocate a budget for people with disabilities and stream roll project that ensures sustainability of PWD.

He added that international treaties must be implemented and signed into law by the government.

He made reference to the United Nations Convention on People With Disabilities which was signed in 2013 and which Zimbabwe is a signatory to but is yet to be adopted locally.

Participants who attended the consultative workshop echoed Manyuke’s sentiments saying  government has for long neglected them from participating in pertinent issues .

Dick Deveranyika, who is visually impaired said the consultative workshops will not help for as long as there are no clear strategies that seek to empower PWD.

“There are no clear policies as to how government wants us to sustain us.

“We are not considered in critical aspects of the economy. There is no ministry that represents people living with disabilities, yet we have the ministry of gender and youths. What of us? Who is going to represent us?

“We are made to believe that we are under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare but this is just a ministry that represents the social needs of poor people. It’s not a ministry that represents us we want a strictly Disability ministry that is led by people with disabilities who will understand our plights,” Deveranyika said.

He added that the disabled should be given housing stands by the government just as the youths have been recipients of such.

Another participant, Lilian Kaseke urged government to make sure that institutions of Higher Learning have paraplegic facilities which will make it easy for PWD to access.

“We are urging the government to make sure that all learning institutions have facilities which make it easy for some of us to access. They should also have teachers and lecturers who are trained to deal with person with disabilities so as to fight stigma,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Yusofu Banda,who is the Disability Programming Focal Person in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said government was undertaking the consultative workshops as a way of soliciting views of PWD and get a full understanding of what their plights are.

He also said there is need to align the Constitution with the Disability Act which was enacted in 1992 but does not tally with the new Constitution.

“We are conducting these workshops as we are in the process of aligning the new Constitution with all our Acts. So we are going around all the 10 provinces making consultations and we hope to come up with a clear way of where to go after we are,” Banda said.

A representative from the ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Letticia Moyo said it is imperative that the Disability Act of 1992  be aligned with the New Constitution so as to preserve the rights of many as stated in the supreme law of the land failure to which the law becomes null and void.

She said the constitution has been silent on the implementation of the Disability Act and thus they have come up with these consultative workshops to map the way forward.

Government of Zimbabwe is currently implementing a legislative alignment process which is being spear-headed by the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Alignment of Legislation to the Constitution (IMT) with technical and financial support from the Centre for Applied Legal Research.