State marginalising disabled persons

We, as persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe remain under represented and are the poorest of the poor.

wheelchairThis is mainly because of the negative societal attitudes against us which leads to us being excluded from all forms of social, economic and political participation at an equal level with our non-disabled counterparts.

What further fuels our marginalisation is the fact that disability interventions have largely been based on charity and medical models, with the gatekeepers of charity taking a leading role while the government occupies the backbencher’s role.

In this scheme of things, disability is just viewed as a personal tragedy rather than a social issue.  This accounts why as a country; we have never had any national disability policy for the past 36 years.

The legislation starting from the Constitution, while purporting to be human rights oriented still further marginalises persons with disabilities by depicting us as the most expensive part of the population and therefore reducing us to objects of the state instead of citizens with rights.

As we try to engage the government, doors continue to be closed and our issues are assigned to the over stretched, ill-equipped and under staffed government’s Department of Social Welfare.

Even those few decision makers such as ministers who had made few progressive steps in disability inclusion out of their own benevolence are now regressing and we continue to be shut out of public and private decision making spaces.

We the undersigned, that is, persons with disabilities, our spouses, children, parents, relatives and others concerned about the status of persons with disability, demand that disability is a right issue and must be treated by the government as such.

As the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), we therefore, call upon the government to give effect to the constitutional provisions by;

  • Aligning the Disabled Persons Act to the Constitution.
  • Immediately comply with section 3 of the Disabled Persons Act by appointing a director for disabled persons affairs and establishing a well equipped department dealing with persons with disabilities while waiting for the realignment of the Act.
  • Clean up the disability legislation and remove unfriendly chapters littered around our Constitution in respect to issues of persons with disabilities.
  • Ensure that statements in the Constitution of disability on other chapters such as the women, the elderly, the children and the war veterans.
  • Adopt a comprehensive national disability policy.
  • In keeping with section 34 of our Constitution, domesticate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, which the government ratified.
  • Ensure the self representation of disabled persons at all levels.

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