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    Saturday, 7 May 2016

    People living with disabilities talk tough


    Over 100 people who are living with disabilities met in Masvingo two weeks ago and vowed that they will not approach political parties or Governments for their rights anymore since these have duped them by either giving them freebies or issuing promises just for purposes of winning elections.
    "Any political party or Government that wants to support us will now have to come to the streets. We will not go to them because when we went to them, they silenced our leadership by giving them freebies and giving false promises," said Disability Amalgamation Community Trust (DACT) president Jakata Purazeni.
    The workshop asked why Government was failing to put in place policies to honour the rights accorded to people living with disabilities in the new Constitution of Zimbabwe.
    The delegates also wondered why war veterans whose population is just 34 000 were given a Ministry to take care of their welfare when more than two million people living with disabilities do not have a Ministry.
    The workshop resolved that people living with disabilities should have the right to vote freely without being assisted and to be given opportunity of being voted into Government, to demand the establishment of a Ministry for people living with disability, to demand that every Government institution must have a disability desk, disability levy, free education, medical attention, two senators to represent them and to demand that at least 10% of civil servants should come from their constituency.
     "The marginalisation of people living with disabilities has gone on for far too long. It is now 36 years into independence and there are no policies to deal with issues of people living with disabilities.
    "War veterans who are able-bodied are given monthly salaries and their children are sent to school while people living with disabilities, some with so much disability that they cannot even do things for themselves are left to fend for their children," complained people at the workshop.
    They also complained that youth and women have been granted quarters in Government, Parliament and in political parties but people living with disabilities are not accorded the same special treatment.
    They also argued that Government set up an aids levy when the pandemic hit the country but there has never been an effort to set up a disability levy in order to deal with the disabled people.
    The workshop which was facilitated by Sherry Chivanga the Executive Director of the organisation was held at Mucheke Hall in Masvingo.
    Despite the complaints, the workshop agreed to come up with policy proposals that they will lobby for with different stakeholders.
    The workshop addressed five thematic areas including disability as a rights issue; structural barriers for people with disabilities, the correlation between disability and poverty and legal representation of disability for PLWDs.
    Participants were divided into groups and given time to discuss the thematic issues and the most pertinent issue raised was that of shifting the mindset of government and the general population at large from viewing disability as a welfare issue to viewing it as a Rights' issue and start complying with section 83 of the country's constitution.
    According to Chivanga PLWDs are tired of being viewed as welfare cases and want to be treated as human beings with rights which should be honored.
    "We are having a challenge whereby people with disability are not treated the same as others. They are not being employed in industries hence we need a different attitude", said Chivanga.
    The participant's also expressed their disappointment at the Government's continued exclusion of persons with disability from active involvement in all sectors of society.
    "Testimony to this is lack of representation of the disabled constituency in Parliament and Senate. We have some of the best brains in our constituency and now we demand to offer ourselves. A precedent was set by our Government that demands your rights first before Government acts. This is what the youth, the women and the war veterans did and we are going to do just that," said Purazeni Jakata, one of the delegates at the workshop.local news
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