COMMENT: Disability need not diminish one’s ability and life chances
THOSE privileged to have had conversations with the late Cde Joshua Teke Malinga can testify that the National Hero embodied many great attributes that made him cherished by many.
A Special Advisor to the President and Zanu-PF Politburo member at the time of his death, Cde Malinga died at his Richmond home in Bulawayo last Friday night after a long battle with prostate cancer.
He was 79.
Cde Malinga, who served as Bulawayo’s Mayor in the early 1990s, worked hard to advance the interests of the city and at the same time championed the cause of people living with disabilities.
His life story on its own tells a story of an indefectible spirit as Cde Malinga refused to let disability determine the course of his life but faced every stumbling block until he achieved everything he wanted.
He wanted to be a living testimony to all that people living with disabilities could achieve the same things as their able-bodied counterparts.
By leading from the front in making sure that the interests of people with disabilities were catered for, Cde Malinga served as both inspiration and champion.
Outside being a champion for the interests of people with disabilities, Cde Malinga was a unifier and voice of reason in the Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial structures which were often plagued with troubles before the coming in of the Second Republic.
It was, therefore, no surprise that the ruling Zanu-PF party was unanimous in declaring Cde Malinga a National Hero.
President Mnangagwa mourned the death of Cde Malinga saying his life was a testament that circumstances of disability need not diminish one’s ability and life chances.
“A nationalist stalwart and vocal proponent of disability rights, the late Cde Malinga was a leading voice both in the ruling Party, Zanu-PF, and in Government on disability issues, including ensuring, in his capacity as my special advisor, that Government policy was alive and sensitive to interests of disabled persons across gender, age, class or colour.
“My decision to appoint him to advise me on this all-important yet often easily overlooked area was informed by his unequivocal and fervent interest in protecting and defending the rights of disabled persons,” said President Mnangagwa.
“A victim of polio at the tender age of two, the late Cde Malinga’s illustrious life and career bore testimony to the fact that circumstances of disability need not diminish one’s ability and life chances. For him, disability became a spur to an exceptional life and career, including courageously participating and sharing in the risks of nationalist politics, and in the struggle for our Independence.”