22 February 2013

Zimbabwe: The Blind Cry Foul

A Zimbabwe National League of the Blind official is unhappy with how the proposed new Constitution deals with people living with disabilities.

ZNLB disability rights and advocacy officer Mr Abraham Mateta said the draft does not contain provisions for self-representation of people living with disabilities in State matters although there were references.

"The Constitution mentions disability and self-representation in reference to two senators yet people were unequivocal in expressing their thoughts and feelings during the outreach programme.

"People highlighted the need for self-representation at all levels of governance but it has been written in a way that promotes the charity model and the welfarist approach," he said.

Mateta said use of terms such as "assist" in the document gives wrong perceptions about disability rights.

"The language is used mainly in respect of persons with disabilities and the elderly persons, we therefore, can clearly see that there was a serious anti-disability spirit in the draft.

"Such conditionalities come from a wrong notion that disability rights are expensive to provide for and protect,"he said.

This comes after COPAC was strongly advised against the use of the confusing and incorrect phrase such as "mental or physical disabilities".

Mr Mateta said if the document remains unchanged persons with disabilities would have been condemned to second class citizens.

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