The situation of persons with disabilities in Zambia, in developmental agenda, whether political, social or economic as compared to Dr Kaunda era and our neighbouring countries is very appalling. Consecutive administrations have overlooked the fact that disability is not an incapability, even if our society deems to believe that disabled people are incapable or a burden to society and non-disability people. President Sata should understand that persons with disabilities since 1959 have been fighting for their inclusion at all levels of society and within the government system. Regrettably we persons with disabilities have not succeeded due to their lack of political will among elected leaders that are unpinned with environmental and legal barriers. What is even more disturbing to us persons with disabilities is the fact that even those interest groups (Youth and Women, HIV/AIDS) have received more respect, inclusion, recognition and attention than we persons with disabilities. What we only hear are empty political rhetoric. This is an affront a frustrating to the integrity and intelligence of our heroes late leader of Southern African Federation of Disabilities Mr. Alex and us, the young generation in the disability movement. I believe that our political leaders are to be blamed for this exclusion and are liable to the current despondent plights of persons with disabilities in Zambia. We would expect that when important national issues are being discussed during important events AIDS programs, social, economic and political development programs, where issues of disability would be part and parcel of the agenda, but this is not the case. Speaking for myself as a young disability rights activist, like many others, would be of help if President Sata demonstrated political leadership toward issues of persons with disabilities immediately after he secured power by nominating two or three persons with disabilities in parliament. Moreover, the creation of a disability advisory desk at State House, and a standalone Ministry of Disability. All we hear are women fork appointments in Zambia women are been appointed to key decision making position when we are equally vulnerable like women, how women should attain the SADC protocol on gender representation, traditional leaders, youth programs, HIV/AIDs and the alike. Whereas disability agendas for meaningful inclusion for persons with disabilities in developmental sectors are non-existent or obsolete. If the supreme laws of Zambia and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are properly followed and interpreted by those who drive the system, persons with disabilities would not be where they are today in terms of political, social, economic inclusion The only times when we persons with disabilities receive due attention at all is when politicians are busy soliciting for votes in a coming election. The question that the ruling party in particular the Patrotic Front (PF) should reflect and respond to is, shall we persons with disabilities be only important partners in development when elections are underway? Shouldnt we be thought of even when no elections are coming? The ruling party should emulate countries like Uganda and South Africa which have realized that an inclusive society means inter alia having persons with disabilities in legislature, running important offices and participating as partners in an inclusive developmental agenda. The major reason why we persons with disabilities have not made any impact in our country is because the lack of political will among our leaders and that we, as persons with disabilities lack sufficient representation. The men and women who sit in our parliament are not disabled, and even with the best intentions, these MPs cannot articulate disability issues the way a person with a disability would represent follow persons with disabilities. As a result, so many bills that are passed in our parliament, both directly and indirectly affect persons with disabilities as they are translated into laws without the inputs of persons with disabilities. The current disability bill this bill is repeal of Persons with Disabilities Act of 1996 before parliament should be rejected on the ground that it lacks broad consultations and a only privileged few were selected to contribute to it, raising fears that the Draft Bill in question could disfranchise many of us to suit one side. Article 4 of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) requires State Parties to promote the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities, without discrimination, by adopting legislative and other measures to implement the rights contained in the UNCRPD. It also covers,; protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programs; not engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the UNCRPD, and ensuring that the public sector acts in conformity with the UNCRPD af*4 by taking measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. Regression is not permitted. The modern thinking of an inclusive society \s requires changing peoples mindsets and shift from a charity/medical approach to persons with disabilities to a human right based approach. Given the rate at which our lives as persons with disabilities are deteriorating, one may fear that soon we persons with disabilities could go into nothingness. President Sata and his administration should realise that equality entails that persons with disabilities are equal to every citizens with full rights, potential and equal footing in the governance process. No amount of speechifying will help if; in the end that rhetoric cant put three meals on the table of marginalised persons with disabilities. We Persons with disabilities need to be closely consulted on all issues affecting us and integration into government machinery so that we are an integral part of the value chain of government. The challenges are on the shoulders of us persons with disabilities to press the President to establish a Ministry of Disability and a Disability Advisory Desk across all levels of the government. We should no longer be victims and should fight these barriers for a better tomorrow that the next generation will look up to with pride.
Posted on: Sun, 16 Mar 2014 16:21:08 +0000
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