Persons with disabilities demand own ministry in Zimbabwe
Africa, News, January 28 2016
MARONDERA,ZIMBABWE: Persons with disabilities demanded a separate ministry that will cater for their own specific needs like in the case of the war veterans.
Members of the Marondera Disabled Community made the demand during their recent meeting with provincial affairs minister, Ambrose Mutinhiri.
One Ray Masenda said the ministry of public services, labour and social welfare was “over-burdened” hence the need for the government to urgently set up a separate portfolio which catered specifically for persons with disabilities needs.
“Considering we routinely express our feelings and present the challenges that we face on a daily basis as persons with disabilities, we can only say we are not being properly heard. We want our own ministry which will concentrate on promoting our rights. To us, it is very clear that the ministry of public services, labour and social welfare is over- burdened because it does not properly consider our plight,” Masenda told Mutinhiri.
He added: “War veterans have needs that are unique to other citizens, and that is why the government saw it proper to create the ministry of war veterans and war collaborators that looks entirely at the needs of persons with disabilities.”
Tabitha Sibanda, who is a board member of Kukura Neshungu, a Marondera-based training centre for persons with disabilities, said the government was relying on old and discriminatory programmes to cater for the needs of persons with disabilities.
“We feel that we are still on our own, 35 years after independence. There are youths who are excluded from many programs. I would like the government to help us acquire farming land so that we can help persons with disabilities in this province.
“When it comes to jobs, there are limitations created by the environment. Persons with disabilities are looked down upon but they can make it in life. Our appeal, therefore, is to the business community for them to employ at least one person with disability at their workplaces,” she said.
However, Mutinhiri seemed to brush aside the appeal for a separate ministry, telling the members that government was already offering them enough support through the Disabled Persons’ Fund.
“The fund supports learners with disabilities with vocational training, medical and educational rehabilitation, fees, per capita grants, assistive technologies and a revolving loan facility for empowerment projects. This is a critical way of ensuring accessibility and empowerment of persons with disability,” said Mutinhiri.