In terms of the numerical reality, two Senate representatives out of 80 is obviously not very far from nothing. Relate the two to the total number of legislators, standing at 350, and you then grasp what it really is. But it is up to us as the face and elected representatives of our sector to ensure that issues to do with disability are articulated as fluently and as loudly as possible.
With an alert, active, noisy backing base, in the form of individuals with disabilities and disabled persons’ organisations (or DPOs), it is possible that the numerically insignificant representation can be turned into a worthwhile outing for the disability situation.
Without any recognised, direct representation of the disability movement in the national legislature, the last Parliament ratified the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities. I haven’t personally checked this, but it is my understanding that President Robert Mugabe, has already signed the ratification documents. The next thing is deposition of the appropriate paperwork with the UN headquarters in New York. This means that it is up to us all, including Abraham Mateta, Masimba Kuchera and many others, as well as the NGOs that champion our cause, to work for the domestication of this Convention so that disability derives maximum benefits from its provisions.
Some of us, like Abraham Mateta and others, have legal training. I hope these can help their two Senators, so that together they come up with legislative items to be tabled for enactment in Parliament.
The Nziramasanga Commission Report noted that there was a need to visit the special education sector with appropriate regulatory mechanisms. So we should come up with a Special Education (And Training) act to cater for many areas of Special Needs Education, including, to name just one, the effective participation of the hearing impaired in public exams.
There is also need to establish legal frameworks for the provision of rehabilitation and training facilities and services to the disabled especially by the voluntary sector or NGOs.
The long awaited National Disability Policy should be finalised so that it can guide national action on matters to do with disability.
Of course, we will not forget that the Constitution affords us such self-representation and self-advocacy in the Senate alone. There are city, municipal and other local authority, including the newly created provincial councils to think about. What of the Community Ownership Schemes? A way should be found for disability to be taken care of there as well.
Nyamayabo Mashavakure, Senator for People With Disabilities, HararePost published in: Letters to the Editor