Persons with disabilities need representation

10 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
Persons with disabilities need representation FODPZ national director Mr Leonard Marange

Suburban

Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

More efforts still need to be made in order for persons with disabilities to be well represented in local authorities and Parliament, the Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) has said.

The Government of Zimbabwe recently gazetted a quota system for women in local authorities and Parliament in an effort to ensure gender balance among lawmakers.

Persons with disabilities, however, say that more still needs to be done, as they say they are still not being treated equally with able-bodied candidates in local politics.

Speaking at the sensitisation, media and disability workshop in Harare recently, FODPZ national director Mr Leonard Marange emphasised the need for more efforts to be made in pushing the plight of persons with disabilities, as they do not have adequate representation in local authorities and Parliament.

“Our only recognisable representation is in the Senate and for that we thank the Government of Zimbabwe for setting aside two posts for male and female Senate positions for individuals who have to be chosen by the disability stakeholders. However, when we are talking about serious governance issues I don’t think they can do much. Looking at the fact that in local authorities and Parliament (National Assembly) where bread and butter issues are deliberated, there is no quota system for persons with disabilities, hence more still needs to be done,” he said.

“Looking at the recently held August 23 hamonised elections, we can see that persons with disabilities are not yet fully equipped to successfully participate in elections. Elections are highly competitive and they need funding. Now for persons with disabilities who will already have disadvantages in society, it is difficult for them to even participate let alone win the elections at any level hence we call upon the Government to intervene and create a conducive environment for persons with disabilities to equally participate in elections,” he said.

At the workshop, media personnel were encouraged to desist from using certain terminology or angling their stories in ways that are offensive to persons with disabilities.

Signs of Hope Trust director Ms Samantha Sibanda recently urged the Government to take a human rights-based approach to budgeting, including implementing best practices for citizen participation.

Persons with disabilities are the highest minority group, making up about 15 percent of the Zimbabwean population, and the International Labor Organisation estimates the cost of excluding them to be around seven percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

“We commend the Parliament of Zimbabwe Portfolio Committee on Finance and Investment Promotion for convening the public consultations for the 2024 National Budget via Zoom and radio. Although we understand the conditions under which the consultations are being held, including the delays from the late constitution of portfolio committees and other setbacks caused by the fact that 2023 was a polling year, we submit that the process has affected the participation of persons with disabilities. The lack of communication has affected the self-representation of the deaf community as there is no sign language interpretation. Communication barriers have limited the participation of people with hearing impairments. According to the National Disability Policy (2021), 11 percent of the population of people with disabilities has a form of hearing impairment.

“Online platforms hinder the participation of most people with disabilities. More than 70 percent of people with disabilities are based in rural areas. The use of the Zoom platform has hindered their participation because of a lack of internet infrastructure to support their participation. Furthermore, data costs are high and since most families with a member with a disability are poor, the likelihood of their exclusion is high,” said Ms Sibanda.

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