The Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA) together with other organisations presented their queries to the Government during the belated celebrations of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
As the promulgation of the Disabled Persons Act (Chapter 17; 01) of 1992 attests to Government’s commitment to promote the capabilities and advance the capacities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the belated commemorations were held on the 26th of March 2018 at Mushawedu Community Centre in Caledonia, Phase 3 (Ward 25) Goromonzi District, Mashonaland East Province. The Acting President of Zimbabwe Kembo Mohadi, graced the occasion.
The celebrations were run under the theme: “Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for All.”
Through a short play, ZPCHA presented the challenges it was encountering in its day-to-day lives to the Acting President of Zimbabwe Kembo Mohadi who was representing the President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Parents of children with disabilities said they were not being treated fairly in the different communities they reside in. ZPHCA members pointed out that they were facing stigmatisation since people treat them with negativity.
The organisation revealed that the day was not only supposed to be celebrated but to be an opportunity for their children who are handicapped to be recognised so that they feel warmth and a reason to live.
“Government must take measures and ensure that our children access quality education and health services. They need support for them to be recognised in communities. The life which we are going through in as much as looking after these children is not easy. I’m pleading to the Government of Zimbabwe to work tirelessly to improve our children’s life. Us as parents of these children, it will be better for us if Government extend projects to us so that can sustain our families,” said Theresa Makwara, the ZPCHA Coordinator.
The parents who are members of ZPCHA said when they travel in kombis, they are often harassed. At clinics, the nurses do not understand the condition and hardships faced by their children. In homes for those who rent, the landlords are also failing to treat them with positivity. Therefore, they raised their pleas to the President for disability inclusive policies and transformation.
In his speech which was read on his behalf by the Acting President Kembo Mohadi, President Mnangagwa said the celebrations were an important tool for promoting the rights of PWDs through increasing awareness of disability issues and the gains to be derived from the integration of PWDs in every aspect of life.
He said the theme was vibrant and prompt to everyone in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET). He urged all organisations which represent PWDs to join hands and work towards the same goal of development.
“The country’s economic blue print, ZIMASSET calls for all of us to ensure that as we implement our cluster of Social Services and Poverty Eradication, we mainstream disability, pursue the inclusive approach and avoid discrimination. Under this cluster the Government of Zimbabwe has dedicated in social services and social protection with special attention to improving the lives of PWDs.
“Persons with Disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development whilst promoting resilient society for all Governments, PWDs and their representative organisations, academic institutions and the private sector need to work as team to achieve the Sustainable Development goals,” he said.
Joshua Malinga, the Special Advisor to the President on Disability issues reiterated that a paradigm shift should be taken in which PWDs were treated. He said disability was a societal issue henceforth, communities should take action to bring change and desist from leaving out PWDs as this was leading to underdevelopment of the country.
The President made it clear that inclusion of PWDs start at home where the family, community and the nation at large offers protection, care and love without discrimination.
The Government of Zimbabwe continues in its provision of services which include provision of vocational training fees and loans under a revolving loan fund facility, availing of Administrative and Per Capita Grants to institutions supporting PWDs, implementation of harmonised Social Cash transfers and food mitigation for vulnerable groups among other provisions.
Petronella Kagonye, the minister of Labour and Social Welfare, with other ministers also attended the day to celebrate with PWDs as well as presenting their solidarity speeches concerning on how lives of these people can be upgraded.
The day’s commemorations also saw the recognition of the achievements of the local Mushawedu Housing Cooperative which is comprised of PWDs and their families.