‘PWDs using hands to move around need COVID-19 assistance

PEOPLE with disabilities have complained of being left out in terms of social safety nets provided by government under the current lockdown, although they were the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Nyasha Chichi Mahwende of Young Voices Disability Zimbabwe told NewsDay last Thursday that they had been overlooked since the lockdown came into force on March 30.

Mahwende disclosed during a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) virtual meeting on public finance management, transparency and accountability of COVID-19 funds that some PWDs, who use hands for mobility, have not been included in financial and protective clothing assistance measures being implemented.

Throughout the world, meticulous hand washing has been emphasised as an effective prevention measure against contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The government has announced assistance packages of $200 for the vulnerable, but not much is known pertaining to the beneficiaries.

“PWDs are not getting any assistance to prevent them from getting infected with COVID-19,” Mahwende said.
“What is disturbing is that among PWDs are persons that have to use hands to move, and these do not have gloves or sanitisers to prevent COVID-19 infection and government needs to assist us.”

Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent), who also participated in the Zimcodd virtual meeting, reiterated the issue, adding there was lack of care for PWDs.

He said while government had rushed to improve the welfare of war veterans, PWDs had been ignored in most assistance programmes implemented.

“On issues of COVID-19, there are some vulnerable groups like PWDs, but where are they in terms of getting the assistance that is supposed to safeguard their lives during this period? I need to understand why because we have always supported war veterans to get better welfare, but how come the PWDs are not factored in when they are factored in the Constitution, which stipulates that they should be assisted?”

Mliswa said government needed to be fair in terms of transparency and accountability on COVID-19 assistance and ensure that the recipients included the most vulnerable groups like PWDs.

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