Calls for Com­mand Dis­abil­ity Fund

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

SEN­A­TOR rep­re­sent­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in Zim­babwe, Cde Wat­son Khupe has chal­lenged the Govern­ment to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion, so that it can ad­dress a num­ber of chal­lenges faced by peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

In an in­ter­view, Sen Khupe also called on the Govern­ment to in­tro­duce a “Com­mand Dis­abil­ity Fund” that will be ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties so that they take to var­i­ous self-help projects.

“What he (Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa) said in his in­au­gu­ral speech at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium was not very dif­fer­ent from what he promised us. He said there was a need to im­prove cer­tain ar­eas and see that the dis­abled were in­cluded but some of the things would need a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment.

“So as a Sen­a­tor rep­re­sent­ing peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties, I will push for the amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zim­babwe so that there is more in­clu­sion of dis­abil­ity is­sues than there is at the mo­ment. The philo­soph­i­cal foun­da­tion of dis­abled peo­ple’s or­gan­i­sa­tions in­ter­na­tion­ally or re­gion­ally is well rep­re­sented. So we deal with is­sues that have been cleared at the Na­tional Assem­bly be­cause we have no rep­re­sen­ta­tion there but I as the Sen­a­tor for the dis­abled I hope there will not re­ally be an im­ped­i­ment on my part be­cause I will con­nect with other col­leagues who are in the Na­tional Assem­bly,” said Sen Khupe.

He said he had no doubt that Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa would de­liver to the peo­ple of Zim­babwe and that the coun­try would stand by him and the Govern­ment.

“There are peo­ple who un­der­stand our sit­u­a­tion and as peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties, we hope that af­ter the amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion we will be able to also raise those things in Parliament our­selves, not through proxy. One of the stick­ing points, one of the painful things we face as dis­abled peo­ple in this coun­try is that we don’t have a na­tional dis­abil­ity pol­icy. There have been drafts and drafts for the past 15 years or 20 years but noth­ing has been ap­proved. We are told the Cab­i­net has ac­tu­ally ac­cepted it (draft pol­icy) but af­ter some time we are told no, it was fi­nally re­jected it be­cause it was found not in or­der, come again with an­other draft. We con­tinue do­ing that so we find it very un­for­tu­nate that af­ter 38 years a coun­try like Zim­babwe with a high lit­er­acy rate, a peo­ple who are proud of be­ing their own lib­er­a­tors but when it comes to the dis­abled they are still lag­ging com­pared to other coun­tries in the re­gion,” said Sen Khupe.

He said the coun­try was lag­ging be­hind in terms of so­cial de­vel­op­ment be­cause of the stigma sur­round­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

“My ap­peal to them es­pe­cially in this new dis­pen­sa­tion is that they work hard with us so that when they leave this world for an­other planet they are proud of what they did for Zim­babwe. Not for only a sec­tion of Zim­babwe, I don’t think it is right to say we fought for the coun­try while the other part of the coun­try is still lag­ging be­hind. If you ask any­one who went to war whether Zanla or Zipra, they will tell you that there was no one who was so in­ter­ested in so­cial­is­ing with the dis­abled like war vets.

“The one thing that free­dom fight­ers wanted when they got to a place when they saw a dis­abled per­son was to find out what the cause was of their dis­abil­ity. Once it was cleared that it was some­thing nat­u­ral whether one was bit­ten by a snake or any­thing, they could feel that the seg­re­ga­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by the dis­abled peo­ple from their fel­low com­mu­nity mem­bers who were blacks was the same seg­re­ga­tion that they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing from whites and wanted to get rid of. They recog­nised that the dis­abled were fac­ing a dou­ble dis­crim­i­na­tion; first be­ing dis­crim­i­nated over­all as black peo­ple and as dis­abled peo­ple by the fel­low black peo­ple. So there was a fur­ther dis­crim­i­na­tion, which I think up to now it has not been com­pletely re­moved and it can only hap­pen if we have a con­sti­tu­tion which I want to say not cock­eyed so our con­sti­tu­tion is not straight when it comes to dis­abil­ity is­sues,” said Sen Khupe.

He said he would also ad­vo­cate for the in­clu­sion of dis­abled per­sons in Govern­ment boards and in­sti­tu­tions.

“I think there should be some bit of clar­ity on the con­sti­tu­tion; we have peo­ple in Govern­ment boards, on all the boards you rarely find dis­abled peo­ple and it doesn’t mean that they are not qual­i­fied but I think it’s the at­ti­tude and the sys­tem does not recog­nise the dis­abled. So we are say­ing the con­sti­tu­tion should ac­tu­ally state that part. It doesn’t have to de­pend on the type of the per­son to say that to­day there is some­one who un­der­stands. The ap­point­ment of peo­ple into cor­po­ra­tions, boards and paras­tatals on dis­abil­ity grounds should not be based on the char­ac­ter of the per­son who is in charge.

“There should be a pol­icy and that pol­icy should also be de­rived from a con­sti­tu­tion which is recog­nis­ing dis­abil­ity fully, not through cock-eyed poli­cies and we are hope­ful with the lead­er­ship of his Ex­cel­lency ED Mnan­gagwa it will be very pos­si­ble. I say so be­cause even in the 90s in the con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sion he was Min­is­ter of Jus­tice we would per­son­ally go and to him to talk about our is­sues. He had also as­sisted in im­prov­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to suit the needs of the dis­abled even though it was a small achieve­ment,” said Sen Khupe.

He said they would ex­ten­sively work with var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­sure that dis­abled peo­ple’s plights are fully heard.

“The other key point I have is with re­gards to the busi­ness sec­tor. We wish that banks, when giv­ing out a loan to a per­son with a dis­abil­ity there should be an ex­tra fa­cil­ity to cater for them. I think there should be de­lib­er­ate af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion. So put it in strong terms we are re­ally ask­ing for a com­mand dis­abil­ity main­stream­ing. Isn’t there is com­mand agri­cul­ture, which achieved a lot of things. If we are se­ri­ous and we im­ple­ment com­mand dis­abil­ity main­stream­ing pro­grammes es­pe­cially on cer­tain the­matic ar­eas like tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion dis­abled chil­dren whose par­ents are re­ally strug­gling be­cause some are at home and oth­ers in ru­ral ar­eas and they are not able to do their daily chores be­cause they have to at­tend to their dis­abled chil­dren,” said Sen Khupe.

Sen­a­tor Wat­son Khupe

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