Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Reporter
THERE is a need to scale up inclusion of people living with disability in mainstream development programmes as spelt out in the National Disability Policy. National Council of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) president, Dr Obadiah Moyo, said this in a recent interview where he called for increased inclusion of persons with disabilities across the spectrum to ensure their meaningful contribution to national development.
As the nation prepares for the 10th edition of the National Disability Expo set for Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera next month, Dr Moyo said persons with disabilities could contribute more to Vision 2030. “We note that such considerations have been made for women and youths. The economic conditions in Zimbabwe are negatively affecting the living conditions of persons with disabilities and this needs to be addressed,” said Dr Moyo.
He said most persons with disabilities are not employed and rely on support from relatives who, due to limited resources, are no longer able to do so. “Those persons with disabilities receiving grants complain that such money is no longer enough to sustain them. There are pleas to have these grants reviewed constantly in line with prevailing conditions so that they remain relevant,” said Dr Moyo.
He said there are no employment opportunities for persons with disabilities as a result of stigma and discrimination by employers who are reluctant to employ even qualified and skilled persons with disabilities.
In June last year, President Mnangagwa launched the National Disability Policy, which sought to address the marginalisation and discrimination of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), empower them to improve quality of life and enable them to contribute towards the national development agenda.
The policy sets standards for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all facets of life thereby serving as an overarching policy framework on disability across all sectors, including the public, private and development sectors. The policy was crafted as a measure to assist in domesticating provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Zimbabwe ratified.
The country was one of the first states to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013 and remains one of the few countries in Africa with legislation that specifically caters for people living with disabilities. By domesticating the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the country is moving together with other progressive countries in putting disability on the national agenda.
The policy ensures that facilities such as ramps, for those on wheelchairs and Braille for the visually impaired, among other disabled friendly facilities are found in public places.
“The Disabled Persons Act of 1992 compels all public buildings to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Most buildings in the cities, including Government ones, remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Ramps are not provided where they are needed,” said Dr Moyo.
He said also of concern was that elevators at most buildings were not functional. At the policy launch, President Mnangagwa called for an end to harmful practices, discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion of PWDs from participating in different sectors of the economy, adding that Government departments should mainstream disability issues in their programmes.
He called on citizens to stop treating people with disabilities as charitable cases but rather treat them as equals who are capable of productively participating in the building of Zimbabwe. “The reality is that no one plans to be born with a disability or desire to acquire a disability hence everyone has an equal chance of becoming a person with some kind of disability at any time.
“Guided by the values of Ubuntu/Hunu and legislative obligations, both state and non-state actors have a collective obligation to do all, which is possible for the fulfilment of the aspirations of this sector,” said President Mnangagwa.
This year’s National Disability Expo will be held under the theme “uilding a disability inclusive and participatory society.”