6 March 2013

Zimbabwe: Disabled Bemoan Vagueness in Draft Constitution

The National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped yesterday expressed disappointment with provisions related to their rights and welfare as captured in the draft Constitution.

The organisation, which appeared before the Senate's Thematic Committee on the Millennium Development Goals also said the standards of living of disabled persons were deplorable as they lacked access to most basic services.

The programmes officer in charge of research and advocacy Mr Tsarayi Mangoni, said the draft's provisions were inadequate as it did not make it mandatory for Government to provide for the welfare of the disabled.

"The draft constitution has a problem in that it says: 'Government shall provide the resources' instead of 'Government will'."

"Government already apologises for its shortcomings, it is an apologetic clause," he said.

He added that the draft did not provide a definition for disability making it easy for anyone to claim to be disabled.

"The draft constitution has no definition for disability such that disability will become very fluid. Even those that are gap-toothed will claim disability," Mr Mangoni said.

He said it was also disheartening that Government had national policies of action for HIV and Aids, Youths and Wildlife but did not have one for people with disabilities.

"This means people with disabilities are not a priority," he said.

Nascoh Disability and Technical Advisor Mr Fambainesu Magweva, however, said despite the shortcoming in the draft, they would support it at the referendum.

"We will Vote Yes for the sake of progress for the national agenda though we are not happy with the provisions of the draft," he said.

He bemoaned the plight of the disabled.

Mr Magweva said 20 percent of nearly 1,2 million people with disabilities had no national identity documents, making it difficult for them to participate in national events such as elections, while 95 percent of children with disabilities were illiterate due to difficulties in accessing schools or lack of specialised learning materials.

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