New year wishlist for people with disabilities

Living with disabilities in Zimbabwe means a daily battle for access to basic services. FARAI MBEZA caught up with two visually impaired men, Masimba Kuchera and Nqobani Dube, to hear their hopes and expectations for the coming year.

“We are hoping that the government will allocate meaningful resources to fund our programmes.” – Nqobani Dube.
“We are hoping that the government will allocate meaningful resources to fund our programmes.” – Nqobani Dube.

Masimba Kuchera is calling for government to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

“The hope is that Zimbabwe abides by the convention. It has already been ratified by parliament but it will need to be enacted in law. It stipulates standards that must be followed and covers issues such as access to buildings,” he said.

“It treats disability as a rights issue and not charity,” added Nqobani Dube.

Dube explained that it was important for the national budget to cater for the needs of people with disabilities.

“We are hoping that the government will allocate meaningful resources to fund our programmes,” he said.

Kuchera said there were a number of social programmes administered by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that were severely underfunded.

“There are disability grants that people are supposed to get, but these are only $20 a month and, at times, people go for months without receiving the money,” he said.

Kuchera said they wanted government to be more responsive to their needs and to update the Disabled Persons Act, which was last looked at in 1996.

“It is now misaligned to the constitution,” he said. “I hope our access to information can be improved in 2014. We hope media organisations can find ways of catering for people with disabilities.”

Dube said he hoped there would be an improvement in access to such services as health.

“It starts with transportation to the hospitals. And for people who are hearing impaired, the main problem is communicating with the medical staff,” he said.

“There is also the issue of the user fees in the medical facilities,” Kuchera added.

The two men said the issues affecting people with disabilities were vast.

“When it comes to education, you find that people with disabilities are the least educated. The highest levels of unemployment are found among people with disabilities,” they said.

Post published in: News

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