By Fairstars Mukungurutse
Persons with disabilities have called for urgent implementation of a disability inclusion policy.
This came out at the United Nations Partnership for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) training programme held in Harare this Monday.
“Stigma and negative attitude towards persons with disabilities is a major challenge that hinders inclusivity. In most instances, people look down upon anyone who is disabled,” said a person living with disability.
Another said, “Infrastructural or environmental barrier is one of the major setbacks. You find out that a disabled person will not be able to join the rest of the community to attend to issues of development just because the infrastructure is not disability friendly.”
Still another added, “Non-inclusivity starts in the home, a child with disabilities is usually neglected and never given opportunities to fully develop their potential.”
It is against this backdrop that the United Nations Partnership for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came up with a five-day disability inclusion training programme for government, civil society organisations and the UN staff.
UNPRPD Zimbabwe team leader Phinith Chanthalangsy said, “Our overall objective is to ensure that countries develop, undertake and advance programmes that help in the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and this include equality and non-discrimination, accessibility inclusive service delivery and full and effective participation of persons with disabilities among others.”
Acting Chief Director for Social Development and Disability Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Christine Peta highlighted government’s strides towards mainstreaming disability issues.
She said, “The provisions of disability in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act, 2013 demonstrate government’s commit towards fulfilling, promoting, protecting and respecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
“There is a Persons With Disabilities Bill that is currently being considered by the cabinet committee on legislation CCL. The bill represents a process of alignment of national disability law with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as the process of domesticating the UNCRPD.”
Zimbabwe has over 2 million persons with disabilities and earlier this year, cabinet approved the National Disability Policy, which is aligned to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and informed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-Agenda 2030.