Organization seeks creation of disability affairs ministry

Africa, October 8 2013

ZAMBIA: The African Youth with Disability Zambian network has written to President Michael Sata, seeking the creation of a Ministry of Disability Affairs.

According to a letter dated October 1, 2013 and made available to The Post, interim national coordinator Frankson Musukwa stated that under the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, people with disability had been underestimated and were being deprived of their dignity and potential.

“Your Excellency calls for recognition of disability issues as social model through creation of Ministry of Disability Affairs are indisputably because under the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, we persons with disabilities cannot take care of ourselves, live independently, or earn a living. Although they (ministry) may think they are being compassionate, people who have this attitude can do great harm. Charity can have a positive effect in some contexts, but in regard to disability, charity is generally negative because it can dis-empower and limit people with disabilities,” Musukwa stated.

In his analysis of the PF’s two years in administration, he commended President Sata for bold decisions and landmark achievements toward the enactment of the persons with disabilities Act No 6 of 2012, consistent with principles of UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“However, people entrusted with overall responsibility to implement the Act have failed as no tangible measures have beenĀ put inĀ place toward progressive realization of rights contained therein… Today the prevailing approach to disability issues promotes a “social model” for understanding disability and actively discourages regarding persons with disabilities as needing charity or a cure. The social model affirms that persons with disabilities are full members of society who have important contributions to make to our national, families and communities. What prevent us from achieving our potential are not our respective disabilities but the unhealthy and dis-empowering misunderstanding of disability,” he added.

Musukwa further appealed for the overhaul of the entire disability sector administration such as the appointment of a rehabilitation expert to the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities as opposed to a medical doctor.

“Currently, Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health to no exceptional is also headed by a medical doctor whose view of disability is “fixing” people with disabilities to fit better into society. Furthermore, MCDMCH is preoccupied with health issues at the expense of mainstreaming disability in development agenda,” he stated.

Musukwa added that the Ministry of Disability affairs, if established, would be a vehicle for enforcement of the social model which emphasizes identifying, exposing, and examining the barriers that physical and social environments place on people with disabilities.

He highlighted legal barriers which limit the rights of people with disabilities and physical barriers that prevent access to shops, restaurants, schools, work, transportation, and other places.

“In this way persons with disabilities, who are the stones rejected by the builders of society, can become the capstone in building solidarity, equality, freedom and a democratic Zambia. Your Excellency, it is necessary to make fundamental rights and available resources distributed in the most possible equal way, avoiding inequalities. As has been said repeatedly, persons with disabilities are the experts of their own situation. Nothing about us, without us,” stated Musukwa.

Source: The Post Online

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