THE National Disability Board (NDB) and members of various organisations representing people with disabilities (PWDs) yesterday called on the government to fix the country’s roads, saying they were hindering them from accessing different places and buildings.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
As the board members appeared before the Michael Nyambuya-led Thematic Committee on Human Rights, the Senator representing PWDs, Annah Shiri was stuck at Eastgate, where she failed to access the building in order to take part in the Mai Chisamba Show, where she was supposed to be a panellist.
NDB chairperson, Mercy Maunganidze, said it was even very difficult for PWDs to register as voters during the registration exercise because of the bad roads.
“Maybe, we should start by looking at the bad roads because in order for us to get into buildings, we need to first move on the roads, but they are bad,” she said.
On issues of 2018 elections, NDB board member, Precious Musiniwa said although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had put some measures to ensure PWDs can participate in elections, there were still several challenges for persons with hearing impairment to register as voters because the electoral body had no interpreters.
“Everyone had to bring their interpreters, and our feelings are that during the voting process, the secrecy of the vote is going to be compromised for the hearing and visually-impaired,” she said.
Musiniwa said information dissemination during the BVR exercise evaded the hearing impaired because adverts and road shows were done without sign language interpreters.
Federation of the Organisation of Disabled People in Zimbabwe co-ordinator, Elisa Ravengani, said the situation hindered PWDs from participating as candidates during elections.
“In order for PWDs to participate as candidates during elections, they need to be in political party structures. The best thing is to move for the quota system, where more PWDs get seats in the National Assembly and Senate,” Ravengani said.
Tsarai Mungoni, from the National Association of the Society for the Care of the Handicapped, said the government had let down PWDs.
“It is disturbing that there is very little political will to address issues of PWDs. Every year, they commemorate Wildlife Day, but whenever is it the day for PWDs they always say they do not have funding and resources,” Mungoni said.
On people living with albinism, Maunganidze said most health institutions did not even have albino lotions, while it took approximately a year for one to get booked for cancer screening at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
“We feel that albino lotions must be provided for free at health centres like ARVs,” she said.
MPs were also told that some PWD caregivers were abusing wheelchairs, leaving the disabled person asleep at home while they used the wheelchair as a wheelbarrow.