Zim society still shuns disabled

Zimbabwean society still largely shuns people living with disabilities, says Energy Maburutse, the first disabled Zimbabwean student on a full scholarship to the USA.

Energy Maburutse
Energy Maburutse

Maburutse is a beneficiary of the United States Achievers Programme and is currently studying Communications, Media and Politics and International Business at Lynn University in Florida. Speaking at a Food for Thought discussion held at the US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section in Harare recently, Maburutse told participants that Zimbabwean society discriminates against people with disabilities and treats them as beggars.

A recent United Nations Children’s Fund report revealed that there are as many as 600,000 children in Zimbabwe living with some form of disability. Unicef says children with disabilities in this country are failing to access basic human rights such as education and health that are enjoyed by able-bodied children.

Maburutse, who was born with a genetic disorder called Brittle Bone Syndrome which makes his bones break easily on their own, lamented society’s perceptions about people with disabilities.

“You need to be a different person for society to accord you the respect that you deserve as a human being,” he said, before narrating the daily challenges faced by people living with disability -chief among them government’s failure to promote people with disabilities and ensure an equal playing field to ensure that they reach their maximum potential.

“Buildings are inaccessible, and government has failed to support legislation to do with people living with different conditions,” he said. “Disabled people are not excluded in the constitution because as it says equal rights for all human beings. I have already included myself since I am a human being. Why then do you ask if the constitution views us as a people? You are already discriminating against us,” he said.

The Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Committee, Lewis Garaba, urged people with disabilities to define their destiny by being pro-active towards the change they want.

“It is time for us to look at the source of our problems. Our buildings are inaccessible – let us go and look at the city’s bylaws, lobby the government instead of complaining. Let us look at it from an empowered point of view, because we are not the only ones who need ramps, but other people like the elderly,” he said.

According to the 2013 World Children’s Report efforts by the government of Zimbabwe to improve the lives of disabled people were eroded by serious economic challenges.

Post published in: News
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