THAT President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should prioritise looking into the rights and welfare of people living with disabilities is not negotiable given this special group of people is often shuffled to the sidelines of mainstream society — be it in politics, social interaction or economic activity.
The alarm raised by Jairos Jiri Association national executive director, Wilson Ruvere, therefore, needs Mnangagwa and all other stakeholders to join hands in ensuring that issues related to the rights of people living with disabilities are taken off policy documents and translated into action on the ground.
We believe that access to equal opportunities and inclusion in the education sector are particularly critical areas.
It is not in doubt that parents of children living with disabilities are often overwhelmed by these children’s special needs as the burden is often too heavy to bear for mainly poor parents.
If parents cannot afford a wheelchair, for instance, it means the child’s mobility is seriously hindered, thus, they face difficulties even in going to school like other able-bodied children.
While donations are good, clearly, what is essential is to ensure that people living with disabilities are capacitated enough to contribute to national development, something that will give them a sense of belonging and worth in society for it has been proven over and over again that disability is not inability.
A good example is, among others, Elliot Mujaji, who has been successful in sport even at the international level, but the numbers are too little. This is because such children or their parents face so many impediments along their growth path in society.
Government needs to ensure that more and more people living with disabilities are afforded opportunities to realise their full potential in any area of life.
Interestingly, Jairos Jiri Children’s Centre has over the years contributed to the school’s high pass rate, which stands at 70% at Grade 7, and this is a positive thing that must be built on as it demonstrates that these children, if given ample opportunity to explore their potential, can fare well in any area.
Needless to say that time for society and government to segregate against children living with disabilities is past. They need to be embraced, loved and nurture their talents so that they can look after themselves and their families.
Progressive societies or governments will not neglect those living with disabilities, but protect them, and we call on Mnangagwa to be more pragmatic in dealing with disability affecting millions of Zimbabweans who remain voiceless.