Chief pushes for disability levy

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The Senate Thematic Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has recommended the establishment of a disability levy to cater for the welfare of disabled persons.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Deputy president of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Lucas Mtshane, made the recommendations while presenting the first report in Senate of the Thematic Committee on MDGs, which he chairs.

“Government needs to come up with a disability policy to cater for the disabled and decentralise offices so that quotations for assistive devices for people living with disabilities are accessible to avoid the disabled travelling long distances,” the chief said.

“There is need for introduction of a disability levy for the welfare of disabled persons, and the government needs to introduce disability desks in all ministries and government departments.”

Other recommendations included that the government should expedite harmonisation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities with existing laws.

“When the committee was collecting oral evidence, the disabled persons highlighted lack of benefit from the provisions in the Disabled Persons Act relating to protection of disabled persons from discrimination, where there is a clause which permits the employer to discriminate in his or her opinion. Conditions of work are not good for the disabled and there is absence of a disability policy,” Chief Mtshane said.

Seconder of the motion and senator representing people living with disabilities, Annah Shiri, said the government did not have sufficient information about people living with disabilities, especially statistics where it was estimated about 10% of the population were disabled.

“People with disabilities benefit from funds for the vulnerable which is $10 per individual and $25 for a family, and the fund should cater for mobility devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, walking sticks, frames, among other things,” Shiri said.

“However, they are not able to access these items because the funds run out before the devices are purchased.”

She said most people living with disabilities failed to get jobs due to difficulties to access buildings and transport, adding that assistive devices were expensive costing $90 for a walker and $200 for a wheelchair.