Anti-riot police yesterday descended on a group of physically challenged people who had converged outside Parliament building carrying placards to demonstrate peacefully on what they said was unfair treatment of people living with disabilities.
The group, Tashinga Organisation for the Disabled, was ordered to stop the demonstration as they had not secured police clearance in terms of the Public Order and Security Act.
Their secretary Machiveyi Mapondera said they were concerned by society’s discrimination against the disabled which resulted in the physically challenged failing to access accommodation, jobs, land, mines or parliamentary seats to advocate for disabled people’s rights.
“We sent a petition to the Harare City Council, the government and Parliament last month which outlined our needs, but it seems it fell on deaf ears.
“Up to now, we have not had a positive response,” said Mapondera.
“Most of the disabled people are vendors and they are harassed by municipal police who confiscate their wares. In our petition, we are not saying they should not remove us from undesignated market places, but they should allocate us places to work from,” he said.
Their placards carried messages such as: Politicians you must keep your promises, No to Zesa Power cuts, and Disability is not inability.
They said electricity power cuts were responsible for most accidents on the roads that ultimately caused disability.
Many of them said they wanted jobs so they could afford to buy artificial limbs, wheelchairs, crutches and other paraphernalia needed for their conditions.
“The Social Welfare department cannot afford to supply these to us and they are so expensive that a pair of calliper boots costs $2 000, while crutches cost $80 per pair,” said another demonstrator, Dorcas Hwatira.
They said police action would not deter them and they would seek clearance before re-converging to get feedback on their petition to Parliament last month.